Stranded In The Snow – Is Your Car Blizzard Ready?

A couple of weeks ago, there was a “blizzard” in my area. Some of us considered that laughable – it was predicted to drop 2-8 inches of dry snow. Big deal.

Car in a Snowstorm

But evidently, it doesn’t even have to be snowing for blizzard conditions to exist.

“A blizzard is a severe snowstorm characterized by strong sustained winds of at least 35 mph (56 km/h) and lasting for a prolonged period of time—typically three hours or more. A ground blizzard is a weather condition where snow is not falling but loose snow on the ground is lifted and blown by strong winds.” –

The winds that day reached 45 mph, with even bigger gusts at times. And visibility was zero or near zero in many areas, as you can see in this photo:

During the Blizzard

This was taken from the 2nd floor of my workplace. If you look off in the distance (upper half of the photo), you can barely make out the power lines along the highway. This next photo was taken from the same view point, after things settled down. Now you can see the glare of headlights, telephone poles, and the things on the highway much better (although not taken with a real good camera).

After the Blizzard

So you can only imagine how bad it was for the people driving on those roads!

Take Some Emergency Supplies

The radio and television had been warning people that if they had to drive in it, be sure to take some emergency supplies with you. But they didn’t go so far as to suggest what those supplies might be. We decided to compile a list of emergency supplies for your car, but found that Gay over at Back Door Survival had already made an excellent list.

There’s a lot of items on the list, and as she says, you may not necessarily need all of them in your car, so consider your own situation:

“If you just drive around town a little or have a short commute, some items may not be things you find necessary. Staying warm, dry, fed, hydrated, and having the ability to call for help are all main priorities. If you can trouble shoot or deal with things like a flat tire or dead battery it can save you the hassle of waiting for help. Just because you have AAA doesn’t mean they are going to be able to get to you as fast as you can fix minor issues yourself. Consider how much you drive and how far and use this list as a guide to creating a winter car kit that best suits your needs.”

Do note that during our little blizzard, rescue and emergency vehicles ended up in ditches or accidents, too. There were even cases of tow trucks having to pull other tow trucks out of ditches.

Driving Experience on Snow

Here in the midwest, people come from all parts of the country. Some get freaked out having to drive in a rainstorm, much less a snowstorm. Others, like people from the Northeastern parts of the country, are quite comfortable driving in the heaviest snow conditions. You might be a great ice-and-snow navigator yourself, but keep in mind that there may be people on the road with you who are not such great drivers, and they may slide into you, or cause you to have to swerve to avoid them. Plus, sometimes conditions can overwhelm even the best snow drivers.

Driving in the Snow

I ain’t afraid of no snow storm!

In case you end up stranded in your car, in the snow, here is the list of emergency items you will want to consider having in your car. You can get more detail, and why you might need each one, over at Back Door Survival.

      • Emergency blankets and an emergency bivvy
      • Extra water and a water filter
      • Urinal and an adaptor for the ladies
      • Food
      • Medical kit
      • Radio with fresh batteries
      • Jumper cables or battery charger/starter
      • Entertainment
      • Emergency cash
      • Extra car key
      • Physical maps
      • Warm clothing that is preferably not cotton
      • Raingear
      • Good shoes (or boots) you could walk in during cold weather
      • Warm and tough gloves
      • Sunglasses
      • Hygiene Items:
        • Toilet paper or paper towels
        • Wet wipes
        • Toothbrush and toothpaste
      • Shovel
      • Bag of sand and rock salt
      • Traction mats
      • Tire chains
      • Flares and reflectors
      • A spare tire that has been checked recently for air pressure and is possible to remove with the tools you have
      • A tire fix kit
      • Car jack
      • Windshield wiper fluid
      • Windshield scraper
      • Firestarting kit
      • Several flashlights with extra batteries
      • Something for self-defense
      • A few days worth of prescription medications

    Gay also cautions you to use your cell phone time  and your gas wisely:

    “You need to be conservative. You only have so much gas, and you don’t necessarily want to run your engine if there are big snow drifts that can clog a tailpipe.”

    It would be a good idea to have a gas can – with gas in it – on board, and some sort of solar charger or independent charging system for your phone.

    If you live in an area that gets snow, be prepared! Don’t venture out into an oncoming storm if you can avoid it, and most of all – drive carefully and be safe!


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