Driving in Southern Snow without Snow Tires.

Driving in Snow
Wild Oak Road In snow

I live in Tennessee so we rarely get snow. When we do, it is usually not like the snow they get in colder climates. When I worked the Snow*Drift Rally in Michigan, I got to see what driving in real snow was like.

Here we normally get slush. In colder climates, the snow is more powdery and from my experience in Michigan, actually has some traction. The ice however is about the same both places. Except in Michigan, it seemed at times to actually get cold enough for the rubber to stick to the ice. Here, it never does.

In colder climates, they use soft siped tires like Nokians that get great traction in the ice and snow. A set of siped soft compound tires would not last long here as the roads get warm and dry pretty fast.

This morning I woke up to 17 degrees and about 1/2 inch of snow on the driveway. The ground was solidly frozen underneath. This is rare for Tennessee. Normally the ground will still be slushy under the snow.

I actually considered mounting up the Kumho Rally tires to my Jeep, but correctly guessed that the snow would only be on my half mile long dead end road. Once out on the main road the snow was packed to ice. My BFG AT’s get poor traction in snow and ice but the Kumho Rally tires are not much better on ice.

I used the part time setting of my NP 242 transfer case which locks the center differential as I headed down the steep hill of my driveway. The snow and frozen gravel gave plenty of traction. As I made the transition onto pavement, I found it a bit slipperier but still fine.

As I turned off my dead end road onto the secondary road, I found it covered in ice. I could see from the tire tracks in the ditches and from the number of downed signs and mailboxes that it must be pretty slick. I had no trouble accelerating even up hills in Part Time four wheel drive, but I knew stopping would be another matter.

Just before I topped a steep hill, I tested the barking traction and found indeed it was very slick. I was glad I had topped the hill slowly as I saw there were lots of skid marks on the down slope. I am glad I did not meet whoever was trying to get up earlier and left all the marks in the oncoming lane.

One I made it out to the State Highway which had been salted, I found the normal slush and mostly just wet pavement. Here, I switched the NP 242 to Full time opening the center differential. This allows the transfer case to compensate for my unevenly inflated tires and allows cornering without binding.

As I got closer to town, the pavement was mostly dry with occasional slick spots. With the open differential I was able to remain in four wheel drive for added security all the way to my office.

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