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Old 01-30-2010, 08:47 PM
 
Location: Yawn Town, WA
39 posts, read 92,919 times
Reputation: 28

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Real original title, I know. We are driving to Denver (Arvata) from California in about 2 weeks for our son's ice hockey tournament. We've never been to Colorado and although we're excited, we have no idea what to expect weather-wise. Is there going to be snow? Or just really cold? In looking at the Farmer's Almanac (don't know how accurate it is) they say there will be a snowstorm and then sunny/cold conditions. Either way, we figure it'll be cold, but are more curious about the actual driving part. Should we rent a 4x4 or just get chains; we have a Tahoe.
I know it's hard to predict the weather and don't expect concrete answers, just maybe some insight as to what it's like now and if anyone has any input on the 4x4/chains question, we would really appreaciate it.
Thanks.
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Old 01-30-2010, 10:30 PM
 
171 posts, read 483,633 times
Reputation: 139
Which route are you taking? If you are driving up through I-70, it is snowing over the Rockies (from Grand Junction to Denver) about 60% of the days right now. In fact, it hasnt even really snowed in Denver for weeks now, but the mountains just 30 miles west of Denver have gotten a couple of feet of snow during the same period. If you hit one of these storms, the I70 will be slow (think 10MPH) and treacherous.

You could also go the southern route and come up I25. There might still be snow, but usually not as much as if you came through I70.

Is your Tahoe a FWD? If not, dont even consider driving it. If it's FWD, youre okay.

What tires do you have on your Tahoe now? If they are new all-seasons and you dont hit a major snowstorm, I think youll be okay. If they are 15K miles old, I'd suggest renting another car. Tires are the single-most important factor in being able to drive in the snow (besides driver ability). 4x4 is overrated IMHO (I've driven both a 2WD and a 4WD, and dont notice that much of a difference).

Chains? We came from Cali where everybody uses chains, which we find funny now because we havent seen a passenger vehicle use them here. Like I said previously, if you have good-quality and relatively new all-season tires and FWD, I think youll be okay. If you have RWD or poor all-seasons, I'd just rent a 4x4 and not worry about chains.

Edit: One more question you have to ask yourself is that if you think youll truly need snow tires and 4WD during a major snowstorm, should you be driving in the first place? Perhaps the best advice I can give you is look at the weather forecast 7 days in advance. If there's even a chance of a snow event, I'd give myself 1-2 days extra cushion and wait out the storm if it turns out to be worse than you thought. Dont be thinking that Coloradoans drive around in unsafe blizzards all the time. They dont - most people realize that it's better to be safe than on-time.
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Old 01-30-2010, 11:15 PM
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
86,889 posts, read 102,301,239 times
Reputation: 32946
If you have to go buying new tires, etc, it may be cheaper to fly and rent a car here. It would certainly be more relaxing.
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Old 01-31-2010, 01:06 AM
 
Location: Arvada, CO
13,227 posts, read 24,320,982 times
Reputation: 12948
Quote:
Originally Posted by coriwithaK View Post
Real original title, I know. We are driving to Denver (Arvata) from California in about 2 weeks for our son's ice hockey tournament. We've never been to Colorado and although we're excited, we have no idea what to expect weather-wise. Is there going to be snow? Or just really cold? In looking at the Farmer's Almanac (don't know how accurate it is) they say there will be a snowstorm and then sunny/cold conditions. Either way, we figure it'll be cold, but are more curious about the actual driving part. Should we rent a 4x4 or just get chains; we have a Tahoe.
I know it's hard to predict the weather and don't expect concrete answers, just maybe some insight as to what it's like now and if anyone has any input on the 4x4/chains question, we would really appreaciate it.
Thanks.
Arvada.

What the weather will be like is a roll of the dice. There could be snow, there could be cold, there could be neither.

A 4x4 may prove useless if there's no snow on the roads. Nobody uses chains here.

We had a wussy snowstorm a few days ago, other than that, I think it only snowed one other time in January.
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Old 01-31-2010, 02:15 PM
 
Location: Denver, CO
1,627 posts, read 3,710,462 times
Reputation: 1778
Just choose your route based on the latest forecast. I don't think a 4x4 is going to help you all that much...cost of fuel alone may justify flying out instead.

As mentioned above, I-40 to I-25, though a longer route, will probably be less hazardous, but my brother and I did just fine in the snow over I-70 with FWD. Your best bet is just to watch the weather and decide then...and plan in a little extra time just in case.
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Old 01-31-2010, 08:52 PM
 
11,715 posts, read 35,879,215 times
Reputation: 7510
Quote:
Originally Posted by coriwithaK View Post
In looking at the Farmer's Almanac (don't know how accurate it is) they say there will be a snowstorm and then sunny/cold conditions.
ROFL. Yep that sounds like Denver in winter or spring. Doesn't matter which year.
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Old 01-31-2010, 09:04 PM
 
Location: Arvada
15 posts, read 52,825 times
Reputation: 18
You must be coming for the Winter Fest Tournament! Welcome and we hope you enjoy our Apex Center.

As for the drive, I would recommend the 15 thru Vegas to the I70.
I am a pro driver and am in the mountains about 3 or 4 days a week. Lately most of the storms from the Pacific rain have been hitting the southern mountains hard. Not so much the central mountains.

Best recommendation is to make sure to do the Grand Junction to Arvada leg during the daytime. After 10am. This puts you on vail pass about 1ish. Visibility will be wayyyyy better if you do hit weather and roads wont ice as much as they do at night. More than chains (which you will not use) you need to be sure your wipers and washer fluid are working. If you are like most so cal people (and I use to be one), you rarely use your wipers and they probably need to be replaced!

Just dont get in a hurry and keep the speeds down if the roads are icy and you will be fine. I70 is a decent highway, nothing like the drive up to Big Bear!

Dan
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Old 02-01-2010, 12:21 PM
 
Location: Denver, Colorado U.S.A.
14,174 posts, read 23,218,153 times
Reputation: 10428
In Denver (Arvada) it could be sunny and 70, sunny and 40, snowing and 15, just 15... but February is one of the drier months here, and the chances of Arctic air moving are less likely to happen by mid February, so most likely it will be 50s and sunny during the day, cold and in the low to mid 20s at night. The mountains are a completely different story if you take the 70.
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Old 02-01-2010, 02:07 PM
 
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
5,699 posts, read 9,421,143 times
Reputation: 2906
Chains aren't necessary. 4WD can help a lot depending on severity of road conditions. Winter weather in Colorado is not constant, it changes a lot on a weekly basis. Some days it's very cold. Others it's warm. Some days it's snowing hard. Others it's clear.

Your biggest driving challenge will be crossing the Rockies on I-70. If the weather is clear, it's a no-brainer. But if you happen to hit it during a snowstorm it can be challenging.
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