Snow Laughing Matter

My Readers being a sensible lot, I probably shouldn’t need to post a warning about a seasonal SHTF situation like this one:

I’m going to ignore the funny bits — e.g. the hapless Kamela Harris tweeting that “America is on the move again” — to focus on the important stuff.

When I lived in Chicago and was faced with a drive of any distance away from home, I made sure that I had the following:

  • full tank of gas, and a 5-gallon can in reserve
  • two blankets — a regular woolen type and one of those Mylar things
  • water (kept inside the car, not in the trunk where it could freeze)
  • emergency food (a large jar of peanut butter, crackers, chocolate and a package of jerky, as well as some hard candy for a quick sugar boost)
  • shovel (one of those military entrenching tools, see below)
  • 10-lb bag of cat litter
  • as well as the usual emergency things one should keep in the car anyway, e.g. flashlight, blaze orange vest, insulated work gloves, road flares and so on.

Nineteen hours, as above, is a long time to be stranded in freezing weather without any kind of sustenance, and it’s just pure luck that the above episode didn’t claim any lives.

Feel free to add anything you think I’ve missed.

(German mil-surp — I actually have two of them.  I prefer them to the U.S. all-steel version, because the wooden handle works better in cold weather.)


  1. As if on cue, the libtards are blaming Virginia’s new Republican Governor-elect for the problem… even though he doesn’t take office until the 15th.

  2. Don’t we all love lists?

    In over 50 years of driving I’ve been stranded once and that was only for a couple of hours in a rest area on I-87 somewhere north of Lake George NY. Back in those days the guys in NY actually did a good job of keeping the highways open. I was stationed in Norfolk VA and I recall that those folks used the religious method of snow removal “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.”

    Here are a few more ideas for the “don’t leave home without it” bag or box.
    A reliable source of fire. Almost nobody smokes these days so a couple of disposable lghters and old school wooden kitchen matches or even better strike anywhere matches (if you can find them) will be useful. Cotton balls soaked in Vaseline and sealed in a pill bottle provides tinder. We used to say plastic 35mm film cans but when’s the last time you saw one of those.
    I’m probably a bit more extreme and carry one of those folding butane back packing stoves and two cans of fuel. Less than $20 for the lot at Academy Sports or Amazon.
    An old fashioned GI canteen cup. The real surplus ones are best but even the Chinese knock offs are okay. Great for making coffee, tea, soup etc.
    MRE hard tack crackers and peanut butter, jelly, or cheese spread doesn’t taste all that good, but they are sealed and have a good storage life.
    Flavored hot chocolate or herbal tea makes a good morale booster while you’re waiting for help. Instant soup mix is pretty good too.
    You might find or already own an old GI holding shovel. Like the German ones shown they have wooden handles, sturdy metal blades, and some had a folding pick blade as well. Pretty good for chopping at the hard ice under your wheels.
    Old style real wool blankets while expensive and scratchy are the best.

    As a final note I see way too many people rely on the comfortable micro climate in their car. They go out into a snowstorm in shorts and crank the car heater up to 80 degrees “because its Saturday and I always wear shorts on Saturday.” What happens if they get stuck? I always carry warm outer clothing appropriate for the weather should I need to be outside for any reason. Find an old fatigue jacket at a thrift store, throw it in the car and if you need it, you REALLY need it. Kind of like a gun.

    Don’t forget a deck of cards and a dead tree paperback or two to pass the time.

  3. I wonder how the people in Teslas did in that snowstorm. Would the battery keep you warm for 20 hours? And then have enough juice to get you home? Not sure what the National Guard could do, perhap evacuate people by helicopter?
    Not much snow this season here in NH, but I have the winter tires on and my usual kit of stuff in the car.

  4. One of the things I like about living in PA is that, unlike NJ, people don’t forget how to drive in snow over the summer.

    A few years before we moved my wife had a hair appointment, literally a 20 minute drive away. We got maybe 2-3 inches of snow and it took her three HOURS to get home. First, despite the snow being in the forecast, the public works people screwed the pooch and didn’t get plows/salters out. Second, people forgot what they’re doing, got stuck, blocked roads etc. In an amount of snow that normally wouldn’t be a valid reason for being late to work (at least in NJ, where it does snow).

    We have friends in Georgia, and the slightest dusting of snow shuts everything down. I also had a buddy who was from Buffalo, and recall the winter THEY got shut down by snow, which was measured in yards. The Bills were giving free tickets to anyone who would shovel the snow out of the stadium.

    Mark D

  5. Thirty Five years ago I lived in Minnesota, in the twin cities area, and I was a sales rep with Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Dakotas, North and South as my territory. I put a lot of miles on my mini-van driving through a lot of cold, white stuff in the winter and I had my ‘keep me alive’ kit. In addition to things mentioned above I remember a nice package of candles, three metal coffee cans, one to hold the candle and use as a little stove, one to melt snow (not sure how clean it would be nowadays) for drinking water and to make instant coffee and one designated coffee can to pee in, a large size can be used for both men and women, or so I’ve been told. I also had a sleeping bag, heavy stocking cap and ski gloves.

    I was told that it could be dangerous to run a vehicle for warmth if the snow was too high around the exhaust area and if the engine was run too hard for too long trying to get out of the ruts when the vehicle was stuck the whole engine area could overheat and catch on fire even if it was below zero outside. And from time to time we would read about people stuck out on the highways, sometimes slid over in a ditch and someone would try to walk out for help and end up becoming a human popsicle while the folks in the car were uncomfortable and stayed alive. That cold stuff can be serious and if folks hunker down and make a nest they might be miserable but they can live.

  6. “Storm Frida dumped more than a foot of snow and closed 55 miles of the busy freeway”
    A foot???
    A mere 12″, and people are dying?
    This country has become soooo pussified, a die off is badly needed.
    BTW, why weren’t the plows running?

    1. In order to run snow plows on the highway you first have to have a stockpile of plows and sanders to attach to the State DPW Trucks. Virgina does not normally have much need for snowplows. Besides, you can’t both believe in Glowbull Warminining and expend state money on snow plows at the same time.

  7. Lived in Denver for 10 years. Even in the summertime, you never drove into the mountains without cold weather gear in the trunk. The mountain passes in winter were particularly treacherous. You could come out of a somewhat protected valley out into a high Mountain Park only to find a 70 MPH cross wind and white-out conditions 200 feet later. ( When you can no longer see your own hood let alone the roadway) We turned around more than once because the State Patrol had closed the roads to traffic.

  8. Here’s a thought: Stay Home. Far too many people today are clueless, thinking it’s someone’s else’s responsibility to rescue them. I call people who have no sense in situations like this “Tire Burners”…from this:

    Saw a program where this young couple in Cali were headed to their family for the holiday’s, decided to not use the main roads but instead “took a short cut over the mountain”. Went up a forest service road (that turned out to be paved), started to snow…so instead of turning around they kept going. Got to a point where they got nervous and stopped. Simply stopped and stayed there…overnight…there was 6″ of snow, they were in a Subaru 4wd and it was a wide spot. The next morning it had snowed all night, now they were really in trouble. He – I kid you not – takes the tires off the car and burns them to create a signal fire. They had fuel in the car but now no tires. He wants a cell signal to “get rescued”, so heads off in his running shoes and thin jacket, runs full circle, then dies from exposure. The FIL hires a helo and after 9 days finally finds the wife and little one, they were okay, but in rough shape. She tells the rescuers that bears tried to get in…in the Winter. Drugs? Maybe.

    They simply got stuck, but instead of a quick turn around and head back down the road they stayed, then waited for someone to rescue them. No winter clothes, no real provisions, no shovel. Afterwards she sued the Forest Service because “that gate they passed halfway up the mountain side should have been closed for – get this – safety, and it wasn’t their fault for getting themselves into the situation. Typical mentality of many people today…and their mask will save them.

  9. Kim:

    I lived for 60+ years in the Soviet Socialist State of Minnesnowta (before we made our escape to Wyoming) and always carried a big aluminum scoop shovel (usually sold as a “grain shovel”) in my vehicle(s). Those tiny little entrenching tools are right up next to useless if you have skidded into a snow-filled place, or even high-centered your vehicle on an unseen snowbank.

    You need something with which you can really move a volume of snow in a short time, because if the snow is falling it’s going to come down faster than you can move it with that little thing, no matter how furiously fast you shovel.

    Back in the Blizzard of Halloween (1991) I had a rear-wheel-drive compact pickup (Mazda B2200) that I could get through darned near anything. Took me over three hours to get the nine miles to work, but two hours of that was simply getting out of the alley, shoveling almost every foot of the way.

    One other thing to mention are tires: They should be the very best that you can afford. If you can afford dedicated rims/tires for winter, put on some very good snow tires (Nokian “Haakapellitta” come to mind). The best all-season radials I ever found were the Nokian “WMR” (those Finlanders really know snow and ice). We put those on my wife’s FWD Escort, and it was like driving a 4WD; you could get through anything, at least if the snow wasn’t over the hood. We’ve now got those on her Subaru, and we could use that thing as a snowplow if I could figure out how to mount one.
    – The contact patch of tire-to-road is about the size of your hand; that tiny little patch better have some darned good tread on it.

    1. The problem with those snow scoops is that while they’re great for snow removal, they don’t handle ice at all. I prefer my Kraut mil-surps, which are handy if you slide off onto the roadside ice. Even a 24″ strip of ice might mean you just spin your wheels, which is where the little pick thing plus cat litter means back on the road in a few minutes. Ask me how I know this…

  10. I live in NOVA, not that far from where the pile-up and shutdown took place. Even though snow of this level is mostly rare, it does happen enough to be prepared for it.
    The only thing I’d add to the above list is a kelly kettle. I’ve had the same one I got in Ireland 42 years ago and it’s great for boiling a couple of cups of water with just a few twigs. I usually carry a 1 lb bag of quick start wood pellets in my kit, and just a couple of them will be enough to boil water from snow. Everything I need for winter needs are packed in to an 80-liter bug out bag so it’s easy to take from car to car.
    The only time I’ve ever needed it was when I got stuck on Mt. Lemon outside Tucson in a March snowstorm. I had to spend two days living in the back of my Ford Transit Connect Cargo van, but I was plenty warm, had plenty of ramen and water, along with a 6-pack of Louis L’Amour books.

  11. Living where it’s not inconceivable that it may be days, not hours, before you’re able to get unstuck and where there’s often a 3 or 4 as the first of two digits after the – sign, a good, ACCESSIBLE winter kit stays in my rig year round. There are a lot of great ideas in these comments and I’m adding a few of them to my kit. (Thanks, Topcat, for the pellet idea.) I keep a couple chem lights and good, old-fashioned fat bastard candles along with something to set them in (heavy aluminum foil works fine). Fire’s great, but you can’t build one inside your truck. It’s surprising how much heat 2 candles actually put out. It’s not T-shirt warm, but with the proper gear you oughta have anyway, you won’t lose bits of anatomy.

  12. And when all vehicles are electric ad the leftatds want, a situation like this will DEFINITELY kill people.

    Global warming eh.? Dontcha just love it.


  13. At least you’re not over here where less than an inch of snow causes chaos in England (we in Scotland are more aware of the issue…)

  14. In my car, right now, in the middle of summer in NZ:

    KA Bar small size knife.
    Leatherman multi tool and about 100 different hex bits.
    LED torch
    Glass breaker/seatbelt cutter
    Two bic lighters
    Puffer jacket (packs to nothing) and arctic work gloves
    Tin cup
    1 litre of water dried food
    100 meters 580 para cord
    $100 cash
    10ft x 10ft tarp
    2ft x 10” board (to put under the Jack in snow or sand)
    Small entrenching tool
    Factory first aid kit plus supplements
    Insect repellent, Sun screen and hand sanitiser and some surgical gloves
    1/2 roll of toilet paper
    Soft pack of tissues
    Spare sunglasses and spare reading glasses
    Jumper leads
    Snatch strap

    Sounds like a lot, but it packs away to nothing

  15. What is somewhat surprising is that the beltway commies have not (yet) found a way to blame Donald Trump for the snowstorm and the fools stranded by it.

      1. How does that make sense? Well, he shoulda run for governor and won four years ago and fixed the situation, but he didn’t and stuck us with Blackface Northam, so it’s all his fault, says woke ‘logic’.

  16. Living in the Arizona desert for over sixty years, I’ve learned a few things. Extra water is a MUST, check to be sure it’s reasonably fresh. A blue tarp to keep the sun off my semi-bald head, and a wide brimmed hat. Good sunglasses. A shovel for digging out of sand if you get stuck. A charged cell phone, and a way to recharge it. a full fuel tank (NOT a fully charged Tesla.) Leave a note with someone RESPONSIBLE saying where you’re going, the probable route you’ll take, and about when you expect to return.

    One last thing: I ALWAYS keep in mind that there are some places where I no business going, and there are some roads my city car has no business being. Common sense will save more lives than Emergency Services.

  17. Make sure your windshield washer fluid is a) topped up and b) rated for sub zero. Most of what you see in the stores will freeze at 20 degrees F. If your vehicle mounts the tank to one side of the radiator where it’s in the air stream, that sucker will freeze solid even while driving. Ask me how I know…..

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