Vail Daily column: Here we go again…
Monday’s first real slam-bang snowstorm of the season brought with it everything we’ve come to expect — accidents, highway closures and stopped or creeping traffic.
In mid-afternoon, when the snow had finally started to stick over a lovely sheen of ice, Vail Daily boss Don Rogers reported that it took a half-hour to make the drive from Vail to our Eagle-Vail office. As is often the case during big storms, it took hours to untangle Interstate 70, our valley’s main street.
Now, a lot of these tangles can be attributed to motorists from outside the county — that’s most of the traffic on I-70, after all. But the readers of this piece are part of the problem, too. And, lest this editorial start to sound like we’re finger-pointing, at least one member of our staff came to work Monday with no gloves, only a sweatshirt for a jacket, and no snow brush in his car. Snow tires? Uhhh, not yet — he bought his current commuter car just this past summer. That explains the snow brushless status of the car, too.
The point, though, is that snowstorms, even in mid-winter, tend to catch many of us off guard. There’s more snow in the forecast this week, so those with snow tires to mount or buy will probably have to wait a bit longer. But, as a friendly reminder, here’s a quick checklist of stuff you need to be carrying in and on your car this time of year:
• Good tires. If you’re wondering, the Vail Police Department will check the tread depth on your tires for free. Tires aren’t cheap, but at least you’ll know.
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• A snow brush and, if you can, a collapsible shovel.
• Gloves and a hat: It’s always good to have spares in the car.
• At least a half-tank of gas. A staff member had a spouse stuck in traffic on the big hill between Silverthorne and Frisco on Monday with just a quarter-tank in her car. If traffic stops, you have no idea when you’ll start moving again. Gas in the tank is one less thing to worry about.
• You should have the Colorado Department of Transportation’s phone number for road conditions in your head — it’s 511 — or department’s app on your phone.
• Patience before you head out. There are only rare cases when it’s better to go than just stay where you are for a while.
• A refreshed memory. Our warm fall means that bikes, golf clubs and other gear are still close at hand, and probably still piled atop shovels, coats and skis. But this time of year, even a prediction of just a bit of snow can turn into a big, wintry blast without warning.
Be ready. And please, be careful.