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Driving in a Blizzard

| Updated Feb 10, 2019

We have officially had our fill with winter. 

It's time to move on – to Florida for starters.

We just returned from a 1,200 mile trip from Manitoba to Michigan and experienced snow and sub-zero temperatures the entire route. I thought I had seen blizzards before. But the one we drove through from the Manitoba border and down I-29 in North Dakota till we were forced off at Grand Forks was the worst I have ever seen.

Visibility was less than 100 feet at times. The snow was driven by fierce winds and the temperature at mid-day was 10 below zero F.

We gave up and found a hotel to hunker down in until the storm passed late that night. It was interesting to watch the place fill up with other road weary travelers. There was a good-natured camaraderie that developed around the common area as folks sipped hot coffee and tea and shared their survival stories. The last of the blizzard refugees came in around 6PM and reported that the North Dakota DOT had pulled the plows from I-29 because they couldn't keep up with the storm. In some places, he claimed, the drifts were 10 feet.

That night, the temperature dropped to 30 below.The wind chill caused by the still blowing north wind put it near 60 below F. I think that at that low a reading, both the Celsius and Fahrenheit scales are about the same.

Driving in a Blizzard 1The next day, we set off east on US-2. The blizzard was over, the sun was out, the flat prairie landscape was beautiful and snow bows – see the photo – were everywhere. That happens when the light of the sun passes through snow and ice crystals, creating a snow rainbow or snow bow.

Roads were mostly clear – those northern state DOT crews know how to handle snow. But driving an RV in snow requires a slow and steady driving style. You need to take frequent breaks. Give lots of room between you and the vehicle ahead. And avoid making sudden turns that  could cause you to lose traction. Actually, those are pretty good rules for driving in any type of weather.

On this trip, though, I found the driving to be very relaxing. There was very little traffic and a whole lot of winter beauty.

But now we're ready for some warm weather beauty

We made it through Minnesota, Wisconsin, the UP of Michigan, across the Mackinac Bridge and finally, to our sticks and bricks home in Oakland County, north of Detroit. Tonight, we'll do our Ask us Anything live stream at 7PM on YouTube. We have lots of news to share this week and will be ding it in bots and pieces. We'll get the Wednesday podcast done, finish editing our Thursday video (our most epic RV factory tour ever!) , pack up and head south.




Mike Wendland

Published on 2019-02-10

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

4 Responses to “Driving in a Blizzard”

February 11, 2019at12:36 pm, Steve said:

Shannon, sounds like you are ready for spring! Couple of things that might help you get ahead of this onslaught of winter problems. If you aren’t capable of the physical challenge with the following get some help first.
1. If you have any slide outs in the extended position try to get them pulled in. Before you push the retract switch clear the snow off the slide out awnings making sure there is no ice binding the awnings.
2. Try to clear the snow from the roof edges, this will expose the roof deck and hasten the solar melting effect around the RV perimeter.
3. Get the power issue resolved, you need to have reliable steady power to get your coach up to a decent temperature.
4. If it’s the only heat source available to you is a stand alone set up use it cautiously, a ventless propane set up can provide good heat but you still need to have a blend of fresh air constantly available in the RV. Whatever you do do not use any type of heater that produces Carbon Monoxide gas as a byproduct of heating.
5. If your RV is parked and pretty much stationary you should look at getting some skirting placed around the perimeter to reduce the amount of cold air that blows underneath. In a pinch hay bales pushed up against the underneath gap can make a big difference in how comfortable the temperatures are.

Use common sense and ask for help, thankfully winter is more than 1\2 over, soon it will be springtime.

February 11, 2019at8:38 am, Greg said:

Celsius and Fahrenheit converge at -40.

February 11, 2019at10:02 am, Shannon said:

Greg. You do not know me. I am reaching out for help since I am in a RV and have very heavy snow on top of the RV along with power loss intermittent. I am in late 70s. I live in this RV due to financial issues. I just need someone to educate me about snow load on top of roof. Have had two heavy snowfalls, low temps and more to come. Should I get someone to push that snow off roof. Propane down 20%. Truck cannot get into area. Ok to run stand alone heater? Thank you anyone.

February 10, 2019at8:17 am, Gordie Connelly said:

Mike I left Farmington at 13 below stopped in Charlotte NC than off to Port Charlotte FL much nicer weather hope to see you on Perry

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