Lake County Motorist

Suburban Chicagoland commuter and motorist weblog

Leaping out of a snowy February

The 35 snowfall events of winter 2008 received plenty of press on Thursday. A snowy February is finally making its exit, so it’s time to see what the (near) future may hold, weather-wise, for Chicagoland.

From the Farmer’s Almanac: March will come in like the proverbial lion, with stormy conditions predicted for the Great Lakes region.

From the Old Farmer’s Almanac (not to be confused with the Farmer’s Almanac): The heaviest snowfall periods, like the month of February, should be over. Winter was predicted to be warmer and drier than usual. No specs on March, but wet snow is predicted for April.

From NOAA: Precipitation, low temperatures – basically, more February. History bears out that the weather will improve…eventually.

What does all of this mean for motorists? A snow-flecked commute may be in order for Friday. Nature’s car wash (rain) may greet us within a week, or it may still fall from the sky as snow. To stay abreast of this weather wackiness, consult your Weather Forecast Beacon.

Stay warm and dry, and “welcome, March!”

Filed under: Uncategorized, ,

Chicagoland bloggers react to the snowstorm

Kilax digs her car out of the snow and shares a snow-related entrepreneurial idea.

Retro Girl is fed up and longs for warmer weather. Hear, hear.

Windy Pundit waxes nostalgic about rear-wheel powered snow driving and settles the old “drive into the skid or drive away from the skid?” debate (remember that?) There are still cars being manufactured with rear-wheel drive – luxury marques in particular – but most of them probably come with standard anti-lock brakes and traction control.

Susan’s had her fill of snow. PhamPants hates potholes. Meari takes a snow day. A snow-laden blue spruce provides inspiration at McHenry County Blog.

Someone’s actually loving the snow. Keep in mind, that post was made two days before the most recent storm. Wonder if the love affair is over – with the snow, not with each other.

Snow removal services, ice sculptors, schoolchildren – somebody out there loves all of this.

Filed under: Road Conditions,

Suburban roads on low-salt diet

Gurnee is almost out of road salt. Fortunately, more is on the way and should be here by Valentine’s Day. Unexpectedly heavy snowfall this winter is the culprit.


“We budgeted $140,000 for road salt this year, but have already spent more than $170,000,” [Administrator Jim] Hayner told trustees. . .

To stretch what little [salt] is left, Hayner said they will begin mixing sand with salt and spread it only at major intersections and on slippery bridges and sloped roads.

“We just don’t have enough to cover our secondary streets, so drivers will need to be aware and drive carefully in this situation,” Hayner said.

Several Chicago suburbs have confirmed that they are experiencing salt shortages, including Schaumburg, Des Plaines and Elgin. Suburban motorists should expect a snowy time on the side streets.

With at least another six weeks of winter left (groundhog shadow or not), running out of road salt could lead to safety hazards on our roads. The Daily Herald quotes an official from Des Plaines regarding buying more salt: “We’ve called all over the place, but no one has any.”

It’s too early to tell how bad the snow situation will get before spring. Expect to see more traction-boosting sand on snowy roads. Maybe it’ll get you thinking about the beach and warmer weather. Motorists can help the situation by following safe winter driving rules. Tips are posted here and here and here.

Forbes Autos article snippet: Do you need four-wheel drive?

Filed under: Road Conditions, , , , ,

Lessons learned from Thursday night’s commute

Good think I paid attention during Thursday night’s drive home (which was longer than a flight to Vegas), also known as “It Came from the Sky: 12-Hour Storm Edition”: The commute had much to teach.

For example:

  • Visibility can never be too low.
  • If a car is spinning its wheels after accelerating from a stop, the drivers in the following cars should immediately honk their horns, as the noise will give the offending car an instant boost of traction.
  • If you are bicycling down a busy street in the snow at night, reflective gear is unnecessary as the accumulated snow on your body will ensure motorists can see you.
  • Headlights, schmedlights.
  • A snow plow is not your friend and its passage must be blocked by your vehicle.
  • A Toyota Camry is just a Formula One race car in disguise.
  • The Three R’s Trifecta: Rear-wheel drive cars, road snow, and right turns.

But seriously, thank you to most of the drivers whose space I shared during tonight’s commute. Motorists overall were well-behaved and respected the road conditions. If only those wily snowflakes could be as well-behaved as those drivers.

Filed under: Commuting,

Behold! The flakes have power!

Who knew that a half inch of non-committal snowflakes had such power over the morning commute? These wily flakes were no match for salt, subzero temps and snow plows (wait, I didn’t see any snowplows). They wielded the power to stop traffic for miles around, with no other cause than their mere existence.

It’s January in Chicagoland and I figured motorists would have found their “snow feet” or “snow wheels” by now. Why oh why was traffic ever-so-heavy in Buffalo Grove, Lincolnshire and Deerfield Wednesday morning? Fortunately, I didn’t see any accidents. So what was the culprit? Surely it wasn’t the little fluffy snowflakes rolling across the pavement. What was that? It was them? Those pesky snowflakes!

What was that? The snow slowed the speeders, too? Well, I guess that’s a good thing, considering the snowy road conditions. Ack! The snowflakes really do have the power!

(Really now: I advocate adjusting your driving pattern based on road conditions as well as the skill and ability of both vehicle and driver. Maybe that’s what people were doing, in more ways than one.)

Filed under: Commuting, ,

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