Region ready to slip into the cold


Herald Writer

EVERETT — So, like many of your procrastinating neighbors, you’re still not ready for subfreezing weather?

Well, there’s no time like the present to gear up for the cold. With snow and ice forecast for today, utilities, emergency management agencies and hardware employees offered suggestions to help citizens get ready to deal with the cold and the hazardous driving conditions that could result from it.

Drivers should make sure their cars are equipped with tires able to handle the winter weather, advises the Washington State Emergency Management Division on its Web site.

Also, allow extra time for stopping on icy roads, particularly when the temperatures are just barely freezing. At 32 degrees or just above, ice may be just beneath a thin layer of water, causing slippery conditions. At 32 degrees, motorists need twice as much distance to stop on the ice as they do at 0 degrees, the agency states.

Another danger is "black ice," ice that remains on the parts of roadways that aren’t in direct sunlight. Black ice is particularly likely on bridges, which freeze first because they are surrounded by cold air.

Cold weather saps the strength of car batteries. This is a good time to check battery condition and anti-freeze levels in your car’s engine, the agency suggests.

At the Lowe’s hardware store in Everett, where customers snapped up sandbags, space heaters and faucet covers on Saturday, employee Chris McDowell suggested lowering tire pressure slightly to gain better traction.

"And don’t slam on your brakes if you do slide," McDowell said. "Don’t freak out."

Alternatively, drivers can follow the example of Bambi Rankins, an Everett woman who joined a rush of people buying snow tires at Sears Saturday.

Rankins takes the bus to her job in Lynnwood whenever roads are icy, not because she is afraid of slick roads but because she fears other drivers.

"When you go on Highway 99, you see people driving too close together and you know they can’t stop," Rankins said. "I see fender-benders over and over again."

Drivers aren’t the only ones who will need to worry about the cold. Power outages are a possibility because of storms and car vs. utility pole accidents. The emergency management agency suggests keeping certain supplies on hand, such as extra blankets, warm clothing, a flashlight with extra batteries, a battery-powered radio, canned food and a manual can opener.

Or you can go the extra mile and just insulate your house, like Darin and RaeAnn Nelson of Everett did. The Nelsons wheeled three huge rolls of insulation out of Lowe’s, intending to insulate their garage.

Being prepared for the cold enables the couple to actually enjoy wintry conditions.

"I definitely hope it does snow. I want to play around in it," said RaeAnn Nelson.

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