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Driving in NB and NS in the winter?

Driving in NB and NS in the winter?

Old Nov 12th 2007, 4:10 pm
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Default Driving in NB and NS in the winter?

Hi

Have already posted a bit of a general question about our recce, but am slightly worried about how difficult it is to drive around in February/ March time in the Maritimes. I may sound daft / paranoid, but how much snow is there generally (on main roads and lesser travelled roads) and does it really hamper progress? I guess we're just not very good at coping with it in the UK, but the Canadians have probably got it sorted....

Thanks!

WFDM
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Old Nov 12th 2007, 5:44 pm
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Default Re: Driving in NB and NS in the winter?

The main things to look out for are freezing rain and storms. Check the weather each day before you head out, if 20-30+cm snow is forecast in a storm don't bother going (or get there before it starts). Similarly if freezing rain is forecast then stay home.

The weather forecasts here are normally pretty good for the next 24 hours. Don't rely on long range forecasts (even 2-3 days ahead is not worth bothering with if you need accuracy).

If there is a storm, they don't start properly cleaning up until after it stops so give them a few daylight hours to get the main roads ploughed and gritted. Highways are normally kept well ploughed and gritted but, again, storms and freezing rain should be avoided.

Packed snow is pretty easy to drive on, ice is ok too (so long as it's not wet and/or smooth). Also, when the temperature is around zero, conditions can be pretty bad with wet ice and slush.

With regard to hampering progress, there were quite a winter few nights last year where I drove between 40-60km on the highway... all the way home.


Originally Posted by Willows Fairydogmum View Post
Hi

Have already posted a bit of a general question about our recce, but am slightly worried about how difficult it is to drive around in February/ March time in the Maritimes. I may sound daft / paranoid, but how much snow is there generally (on main roads and lesser travelled roads) and does it really hamper progress? I guess we're just not very good at coping with it in the UK, but the Canadians have probably got it sorted....

Thanks!

WFDM

Last edited by Greenhill; Nov 12th 2007 at 5:58 pm.
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Old Nov 12th 2007, 5:52 pm
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Default Re: Driving in NB and NS in the winter?

Yep, freezing rain is way worse than snow. If there is freezing rain, then basically dont make the trip... Snow is cleared pretty efficiently in Canada, and easy enough to get about in if you are patient and careful.

Freezing rain on the other hand you had better just wait out.

One tip for winter driving, especially a rental...buy a jug of washer fluid and keep it in the trunk in case you run out. Nothing worse than being stuck in the middle of no where, unable to see because you ran out of washer fluid. Water doesn't cut it when its ten below zero, and with salt spray everywhere, you use the squirter a lot more than you would ever imagine.
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Old Nov 12th 2007, 6:20 pm
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Default Re: Driving in NB and NS in the winter?

To add to the great advice that you've already received ......
  • When you first arrive, go to an empty parking lot, drive around, slam on the brakes, and feel what it's like when your vehicle goes into a skid. Practise recovering from a skid.

  • If you hit a patch of ice and get into a skid, don't slam on the brakes or over-correct the steering wheel. That will just make matters worse. Let the vehicle have its way for a second, and then gently bring it back to the right direction. Of course, if you've done a 360 degree turn, which has happened to me, you'll be facing the right direction anyway. Many skids can be avoided by driving SLOWLY and indeed by not undertaking the trip at all if driving conditions are poor, as other posters have stated.

  • If possible drive a vehicle that is equipped with winter tires. I don't know how easy it is to rent a vehicle with winter tires in NB and NS. Around here the standard issue from rental companies is all-season tires.

  • You don't need four-wheel drive, but I find front-wheel drive very useful.

  • ABS brakes are enormously helpful.

  • Always keep the gasoline (petrol) tank at least half full. When the gas gauge shows that the tank is half full, fill up with gas.

  • When you fill up with gas, check the level of the windshield-washer fluid. Top it up as necessary. As iaink said, use proper windshield-washer fluid, which contains antifreeze. It's available from gas stations and supermarkets.

  • Wear warm clothing. If you do not feel the need to wear warm clothing, at least carry it in the car with you. You must have a warm coat, sweater (jumper), socks, boots, a warm hat, scarf and mittens or gloves.

  • If you drive from one town to another and therefore travel through rural areas, carry an emergency kit that includes:

  • windshield-washer fluid (as iaink said)

  • flashlight (torch)

  • spare batteries

  • emergency candle (you can buy a purpose-made candle that comes in a tin)

  • matches

  • snow shovel (you can buy a lightweight, collapsible one)

  • emergency food (e.g., chocolate or granola bars)
  • If you drive from one town to another, check local weather and road conditions before you set out on your trip (already covered by other posters).

  • If possible, tell someone where you are going and when you expect to arrive. If you don't show up, they'll know to send out the St. Bernards.

  • Have a map with you.

  • A cell phone (mobile) is a reassuring thing to have.

  • Your vehicle needs to have a scraper-brush with which to scrape ice off the windshield and brush snow off the vehicle after it has been parked outside. Where I live, however, this is standard issue in rental vehicles.

  • When roads are snowy and/or icy, you need to drive SLOWLY. When road conditions are poor, you need to drive 20 km/h or 30 km/h below the posted speed limit. Sometimes you need to drive even more slowly than that.

  • When you need to increase your speed, do so gradually.

  • When you need to decrease your speed, try to do so gradually as well. Aim to stop ten feet before you think you need to. This will give you some room for error if you skid. Don't slam on the brakes all at once. Tap on the brake pedal a few times in order to slow down. (ABS brakes are extremely helpful in this regard.)

  • Canadian vehicles are equipped with daytime running lights. That is, as soon as you turn the engine on, front lights come on automatically. Research has found that this makes a vehicle much more visible, and it reduces the number of accidents. BUT, the rear lights do not come on automatically. When visibility is poor (when it's snowing, foggy, etc.), it's a good idea to switch on your headlights. This will automatically switch on the rear lights as well, and will make your vehicle much more visible to drivers who are travelling behind you.

  • I'm sure you know that Canadians drive on the right hand side of the road. A common mistake that new comers make is to turn on the indicator light when they intend to turn on the windshield wipers, and vice versa. Also, the driver tends to head for the passenger door, and vice versa. It's hard to avoid these minor mistakes. It takes a bit of time to get used to things being back to front.

  • In much of Canada you can turn right at a red traffic light, provided you have checked that there is no traffic approaching from your left. But I've never been to NB or NS, so cannot vouch for those provinces.

  • If you happen to encounter a bright, sunny winter's day, the glare from the snow can be incredible. You need a pair of good sunglasses.

  • Hope that helps.
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    Old Nov 12th 2007, 9:06 pm
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    Default Re: Driving in NB and NS in the winter?

    Really useful and reassuring info (OH is nodding his head!). Thanks muchly folks (and for the Canadian / UK translation of words, Judy!).
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    Old Nov 12th 2007, 9:08 pm
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    Default Re: Driving in NB and NS in the winter?

    LOL, "keep a jug in the trunk"


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    Old Nov 12th 2007, 9:31 pm
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    Default Re: Driving in NB and NS in the winter?

    Originally Posted by Judy in Calgary View Post
    To add to the great advice that you've already received ......
    • When you first arrive, go to an empty parking lot, drive around, slam on the brakes, and feel what it's like when your vehicle goes into a skid. Practise recovering from a skid.

    • If you hit a patch of ice and get into a skid, don't slam on the brakes or over-correct the steering wheel. That will just make matters worse. Let the vehicle have its way for a second, and then gently bring it back to the right direction. Of course, if you've done a 360 degree turn, which has happened to me, you'll be facing the right direction anyway. Many skids can be avoided by driving SLOWLY and indeed by not undertaking the trip at all if driving conditions are poor, as other posters have stated.

    • If possible drive a vehicle that is equipped with winter tires. I don't know how easy it is to rent a vehicle with winter tires in NB and NS. Around here the standard issue from rental companies is all-season tires.

    • You don't need four-wheel drive, but I find front-wheel drive very useful.

    • ABS brakes are enormously helpful.

    • Always keep the gasoline (petrol) tank at least half full. When the gas gauge shows that the tank is half full, fill up with gas.

    • When you fill up with gas, check the level of the windshield-washer fluid. Top it up as necessary. As iaink said, use proper windshield-washer fluid, which contains antifreeze. It's available from gas stations and supermarkets.

    • Wear warm clothing. If you do not feel the need to wear warm clothing, at least carry it in the car with you. You must have a warm coat, sweater (jumper), socks, boots, a warm hat, scarf and mittens or gloves.

    • If you drive from one town to another and therefore travel through rural areas, carry an emergency kit that includes:

    • windshield-washer fluid (as iaink said)

    • flashlight (torch)

    • spare batteries

    • emergency candle (you can buy a purpose-made candle that comes in a tin)

    • matches

    • snow shovel (you can buy a lightweight, collapsible one)

    • emergency food (e.g., chocolate or granola bars)
  • If you drive from one town to another, check local weather and road conditions before you set out on your trip (already covered by other posters).

  • If possible, tell someone where you are going and when you expect to arrive. If you don't show up, they'll know to send out the St. Bernards.

  • Have a map with you.

  • A cell phone (mobile) is a reassuring thing to have.

  • Your vehicle needs to have a scraper-brush with which to scrape ice off the windshield and brush snow off the vehicle after it has been parked outside. Where I live, however, this is standard issue in rental vehicles.

  • When roads are snowy and/or icy, you need to drive SLOWLY. When road conditions are poor, you need to drive 20 km/h or 30 km/h below the posted speed limit. Sometimes you need to drive even more slowly than that.

  • When you need to increase your speed, do so gradually.

  • When you need to decrease your speed, try to do so gradually as well. Aim to stop ten feet before you think you need to. This will give you some room for error if you skid. Don't slam on the brakes all at once. Tap on the brake pedal a few times in order to slow down. (ABS brakes are extremely helpful in this regard.)

  • Canadian vehicles are equipped with daytime running lights. That is, as soon as you turn the engine on, front lights come on automatically. Research has found that this makes a vehicle much more visible, and it reduces the number of accidents. BUT, the rear lights do not come on automatically. When visibility is poor (when it's snowing, foggy, etc.), it's a good idea to switch on your headlights. This will automatically switch on the rear lights as well, and will make your vehicle much more visible to drivers who are travelling behind you.

  • I'm sure you know that Canadians drive on the right hand side of the road. A common mistake that new comers make is to turn on the indicator light when they intend to turn on the windshield wipers, and vice versa. Also, the driver tends to head for the passenger door, and vice versa. It's hard to avoid these minor mistakes. It takes a bit of time to get used to things being back to front.

  • In much of Canada you can turn right at a red traffic light, provided you have checked that there is no traffic approaching from your left. But I've never been to NB or NS, so cannot vouch for those provinces.

  • If you happen to encounter a bright, sunny winter's day, the glare from the snow can be incredible. You need a pair of good sunglasses.

  • Hope that helps.
    Good advice. I would add that in winter, do not remove your winter clothing while driving, especially on lesser travelled roads. It has happened that people have slid off into the ditch, unable to move for some reason or other, and because it was warm in the car had removed their coat. They are found next day frozen to death. Carry an aluminum blanket for just such occasions.
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    Old Nov 12th 2007, 9:49 pm
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    Default Re: Driving in NB and NS in the winter?

    Originally Posted by ontres View Post
    Good advice. I would add that in winter, do not remove your winter clothing while driving, especially on lesser travelled roads. It has happened that people have slid off into the ditch, unable to move for some reason or other, and because it was warm in the car had removed their coat. They are found next day frozen to death. Carry an aluminum blanket for just such occasions.
    Good point, I carry a big fleece blanket in the car above and beyond other things in the list also I take a bottle of water when I get in (if you leave one in it will freeze solid) so I have a drink if I get stuck as an ex-soldier I can tell you there is nothing worse than trying to get water from the snow with parched lips.

    Above all dont worry, too much on the whole the roads are cleared very quickly. Just to re stress something previously said, if the weather man mentions freezing rain or white out conditions then seriously consider if you really need to travel at that time.
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    Old Nov 12th 2007, 11:34 pm
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    Default Re: Driving in NB and NS in the winter?

    Lots of great advice given here.

    One thing I found out when I moved here is that you DO NOT dilute your washer fluid - pour straight from the container
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