Don’t panic. I’ve been through a polar vortex or two and about a dozen snowpocalypses in my life (which were in no way responsible for my move to a place where the temperature goes below freezing once a year) and I’m still here.
The final polar vortex before I moved to Mississippi from Iowa featured temperatures so cold that salt, which works by lowering the freezing point of water, was completely ineffective. That’s cold.
While everyone else in the city hunkered down with some baking and some wine, I was trying to scrape ice off my windshield to get to work by 5 a.m., which was difficult because, I was standing on a patch of ice at the time and would end up pushing myself away from the car instead of pushing the ice off my windshield.
Weather and emergency management officials said the combination of wet weather and below-freezing temperatures could create icy patches on roads — also known as black ice, because they tend to blend in with the pavement and are difficult to see — Friday and Saturday nights.
So, here are a few tips to get you through the difficult times ahead.
1. Don’t drive. Seriously, don’t. Unless someone is dying or your boss is screaming at you, stay off the roads. Many Coast residents drive in these types of conditions a couple times a decade. Even if you are confident in your driving abilities, are you confident in everyone else’s? Even in the north, in places that get multiple snow storms a year, the first frozen conditions of the season bring dozens of crashes because people unlearn how to drive in those conditions over the summer.
2. Plan a snowpocalypse party. Snowpocalypse parties are — I’m told — kind of like hurricane parties. I prefer cooking things, making mulled or spiced wine, and playing card games but y’all do your thing. Stock up on what you think you need now.
3. If you must drive, drive slowly. The slower you are going when you hit icy patches the less likely you are to lose control. Remember, bridges ice before roads. Keep your distance from other vehicles and you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to stop at intersections. This type of ice is usually patchy but if you’re really struggling for a longer distance, shift down.
4. If you hit ice, I was serious above when I said not to panic. The general rule is to do as little as possible and let your car continued forward until it finds a spot with some traction again. Your first reaction will be to hit your brakes. Don’t do that; your car will continue skidding forward and you’ll have lost control over it. Press your brakes gently to decelerate. Keep your wheel straight. If you feel the back end of your car start to slide left or right, turn your wheel into the same direction. Don’t try to straighten your car by steering in the opposite direction, you risk your car spinning out.
5. I really can’t emphasize that this is a great time for a storm party that involves zero driving. Or to catch up on your reading. Is there a Netflix show you’ve been meaning to watch?
I’ll leave you with my mother’s comment on my Facebook post about writing this blog: “There is only one rule on how to drive on ice — DON’T DRIVE ON ICE!!!”