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Old 11-25-2012, 11:24 AM
 
Location: Atlanta
1,034 posts, read 1,176,696 times
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OKay I have done extensive research on this forum about wv winters and snowfall/snowstorms.etc.etc. My question is this...I have a Toyota Avalon but rarely drive it,I take the train to work and back. I am a good driver (at least I think so) but I have never driven in snow before...I am taking the whole month of December off and going on a road trip from Atlanta,Ga to Southern Wv(Beckley) and up to Elkins and Canaan Valley,then up to Morgantown and into western md,(frostburg,and Cumberland)via 1-68..I don't know whether to drive my Avalon or rent a smaller car,I have never driven in the mountains before either...Is this just a disaster waiting to happen or should I wait until Spring to go on my road trip?

Last edited by snowchaser2002; 11-25-2012 at 11:39 AM..
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Old 11-25-2012, 11:31 AM
 
Location: Portsmouth, VA
6,513 posts, read 7,165,934 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snowchaser2002 View Post
OKay I have done extensive research on this forum about wv winters and snowfall/snowstorms.etc.etc. My question is this...I have a Toyota Avalon but rarely drive it,I take the train to work and back. I am a good driver (at least I think so) but I have not ever driven in snow before...I am taking the whole month of December off and going on a road trip from Atlanta,Ga to Southern Wv(Beckley) and up to Elkins and Canaan Valley,then up to Morgantown and into western md,(frostburg,and Cumberland)via 1-68..I don't know whether to drive my Avalon or rent a smaller car,I have never driven in the mountains before either...Is this just a diseaster waiting to happen or should I wait until Spring to go on my road trip?
I used to live in West Virginia. Biggest problem is that the mountains do not lend themselves to road clearance, in the traditional sense. Meaning that they actually do clear the roads, unlike Virginia, but on the other hand, they use sand/cinders in place of salt on the roads. The cinders give you traction without eating into the concrete, which is typical of the salt used in the Midwest or the Northeast.

You can also get stuck somewhere in West Virginia, for like 2 weeks, before the roads are passable. Take a GPS; you may need it to find alternate routes out. I wouldn't go anywhere in West Virginia off of the major highway in the winter if there is a possibility of a storm without knowing which routes will be cleared, and which won't.

Leave the sedan and home and take an actual truck, or put snow tires on your car. Stay on the major highways, and away from the State Routes and you should be alright. One last thing, cell phone coverage is spotty. AT&T tends to work pretty much everywhere though. Sprint and T-Mobile, only outside of major metropolitan areas, which is West Virginia means a metro of 200,000 or more.
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Old 11-25-2012, 11:40 AM
 
Location: Western Pennsylvania
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Since you're taking a whole month, you shouldn't be under any time pressures. Just use common sense.

Pay attention to the weather reports. If you'll be on the Interstates, a few inches shouldn't be a problem. If the forecast calls for more than about 6" or so, just stay put where you are for a few hours, or maybe till the next day.

If you decide to rent something, be sure its 4WD or at least AWD, and has all season (not touring) tires.
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Old 11-25-2012, 03:44 PM
 
Location: Tampa, FL
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On the interstate or major 4 lane divided highwats you will be fine. Off on the side roads, you are taking your life into your own hands. Even with 4x4 and tire chains.

I had the unfortunate pleasure to have to be in the area for work in the Winter of 2010 when the area got all that snow. I have a truck with 4x4 and it was absolute hell. The problem was I HAD to drive on these secondary roads to get to where I had to go for work.

Driving up to Beckley on I-77 would be fine, The highest point would be Flat Top Mountain, it tends to get real cold / snow / wind up there. From Beckley take US 19 North to I-79 North (East) to US 119 South (East) to Elkins. They keep the interstates and US 19 and 119 plowed sufficiently, just take it easy.

DO NOT under any circumstances go the route of I-77 to I-64 East to US 219 North up to Elkins in the Winter. You will end up flying off the mountain.

After Elkins, US 219 and US 33 and the local roads to Canaan Valley can be tricky.

The real problem is that even if the roads are plowed and salted, virtually no sun ever hits some of these roads and they become icy, and a lot of these roads, especially US 219 are 2 lane non-divided highways that are twisty, curvey and major elevation changes. Not the type of roads you want to be driving on if there is ice/snow present.
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Old 11-25-2012, 06:15 PM
 
Location: Atlanta
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Originally Posted by crazynip View Post
On the interstate or major 4 lane divided highwats you will be fine. Off on the side roads, you are taking your life into your own hands. Even with 4x4 and tire chains.

I had the unfortunate pleasure to have to be in the area for work in the Winter of 2010 when the area got all that snow. I have a truck with 4x4 and it was absolute hell. The problem was I HAD to drive on these secondary roads to get to where I had to go for work.

Driving up to Beckley on I-77 would be fine, The highest point would be Flat Top Mountain, it tends to get real cold / snow / wind up there. From Beckley take US 19 North to I-79 North (East) to US 119 South (East) to Elkins. They keep the interstates and US 19 and 119 plowed sufficiently, just take it easy.

DO NOT under any circumstances go the route of I-77 to I-64 East to US 219 North up to Elkins in the Winter. You will end up flying off the mountain.

After Elkins, US 219 and US 33 and the local roads to Canaan Valley can be tricky.

The real problem is that even if the roads are plowed and salted, virtually no sun ever hits some of these roads and they become icy, and a lot of these roads, especially US 219 are 2 lane non-divided highways that are twisty, curvey and major elevation changes. Not the type of roads you want to be driving on if there is ice/snow present.

:::biting fingernails::: if I was not nervous before I really am now!!! seriously thanks though I actually remember looking at maps and thinking I would take us19 to Elkins from Beckley...All my friends are telling me the same thing though and I may be going with a friend who knows how to drive in snow/ice/mountains...IF I have not learned anything I have learned that the major interstates are the first to get treated if/when snows come...I will try to stick to them!
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Old 11-26-2012, 06:53 AM
 
882 posts, read 1,919,687 times
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"DO NOT under any circumstances go the route of I-77 to I-64 East to US 219 North up to Elkins in the Winter. You will end up flying off the mountain"


Take this advice. Of course, I've had to roll thru that area several times in the past few winters, and have had my share of white knuckle adventures - and that's in an adjustable suspension 4WD w/locking diffs & serious tires.
OTOH, the view is, as Jefferson wrote @ what is now Harper's Ferry: "worth a trip across the Atlantic". Incredible countryside. On one such ride my younger nephew commented that it was like driving thru one of the sets of "The Lord of the Rings" movies...
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Old 11-26-2012, 06:56 AM
 
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That's exactly how I go and will continue to go. Beautiful ride, very scenic...just have the right tires and vehicle and slow down and you will be fine.
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Old 11-26-2012, 07:52 AM
 
Location: Western Pennsylvania
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Geez, reading some of the replies you'd think that driving in WV in the winter is like driving one of those Alaska Ice Roads.

Here are some general rules:
  • Be gentle... accelerating, braking, turning
  • Use lower gears going downhill to avoid braking
  • Avoid stopping on an uphill grade
  • Slow Down!
If you're unsure of the conditions, tune in a local radio station and listen to the School Closings and Delays. If schools are delayed opening, get another couple hours of sleep. If schools are closed, renew your motel reservation for an additional night.

And poffmom is right. Rte 219 (Thomas --> Elkiins --> Marlinton --> Lewisburg --> Princeton) is absolutely one of the most scenic routes in all the U.S. My favorite is to stop at a pulloff on Cheat Mountain between Marlinton and Snowshoe; the Greenbrier River Valley stretches before you for at least twenty miles.
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Old 11-26-2012, 08:35 AM
 
882 posts, read 1,919,687 times
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Originally Posted by snorpus View Post
Geez, reading some of the replies you'd think that driving in WV in the winter is like driving one of those Alaska Ice Roads. .
Nah. I've driven in Alaska. Rt. 93/219 from Mt. Storm Lake to Elkins in the dead of winter is tougher...
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Old 11-26-2012, 09:38 AM
 
10,148 posts, read 13,634,640 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goofy328 View Post
I used to live in West Virginia. Biggest problem is that the mountains do not lend themselves to road clearance, in the traditional sense. Meaning that they actually do clear the roads, unlike Virginia, but on the other hand, they use sand/cinders in place of salt on the roads. The cinders give you traction without eating into the concrete, which is typical of the salt used in the Midwest or the Northeast.

You can also get stuck somewhere in West Virginia, for like 2 weeks, before the roads are passable. Take a GPS; you may need it to find alternate routes out. I wouldn't go anywhere in West Virginia off of the major highway in the winter if there is a possibility of a storm without knowing which routes will be cleared, and which won't.

Leave the sedan and home and take an actual truck, or put snow tires on your car. Stay on the major highways, and away from the State Routes and you should be alright. One last thing, cell phone coverage is spotty. AT&T tends to work pretty much everywhere though. Sprint and T-Mobile, only outside of major metropolitan areas, which is West Virginia means a metro of 200,000 or more.
I don't know... I have Sprint and it seems to work anywhere other cell phones work, which is most of the place. All radio traffic is restricted in Pocahontas County due to the radio astronomy facility there. That includes cell phones.
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