Saturday, January 26, 2008

Travelling in Winter

Around here, you take your life into your own hands (or put it in someone else's!) when travelling in winter ... well, more than usual! Weather changes can occur rapidly and road conditions can be very different within a few miles ... or even around a corner! The road can go from being dry where the sun shines on it, to icy around a corner that has been in the shade all winter. Very "exciting" when you are doing 50 mph!
At Christmas-time I travelled across the Santiam Pass to be with family in the Willamette Valley. As I was half-way between Bend and Sisters, I could see a major snow storm coming from the Cascade Mountains, which I had to cross. (Note the sun in the rear view mirror ... storm just ahead) I had been in dust storms in Australia and knew what I was in for. Just replace dust with snow and freezing temperatures ... same visibility but roads as slick as ... well, you can imagine!Thankfully the storm passed just south of the pass so I didn't have the extreme conditions I was expecting ... much to my relief!
We also need to acknowledge the army of snowplows that keep the roads usable. This was the road I faced on the trip. Very good condition by winter standards.
Hard to believe they have to put out signs warning about passing snowplows on the right! It's not unusual to see signs broken off by the impact of the snow being thrown off the road. I guess some people can't figure that out for themselves!
Recently a snowstorm dumped so much snow there were 3 avalanches that closed the pass (no casualties) and numerous accidents that followed. One accident involving 18 vehicles but no deaths, thank goodness.
The "trick" is to SLOW DOWN and make sure your car (and your driving skill level) matches the conditions ... something that seems to be lacking amongst so many people that use these roads!
Nothing more frustrating than following someone who is scared to death of the winter driving conditions. Maybe they would be more relaxed in Arizona!


Ineke said...

Wow, that is a serious winter storm!

Jana said...

Ah....driving in the snow, my least favorite thing in the world. We have white out blizzard conditions today. Hope your weather is better!