As Central Oregon breaks the streak of warm weather this weekend, it’s time to start thinking about safe winter driving. Mountain snow and a wintry mix in lower elevations is predicted for Saturday, according to the Central Oregon Daily News weather team.
Kacey Davey, the Public Information Officer for the Oregon Department of Transportation, said their crews have been ready for this change in events for awhile now.
“We have plow trucks that are ready to go, our de-icer trucks are ready,” she said. “They’re all getting their final tune-ups and they are ready to hit the road when or if it happens.”
Tire shops are also seeing an uptick in snow tire and studded tire appointments this week as the first winter weather system of the season nears.
“Generally this time of year in October is when everybody kind of figures it out, they start coming in,” said Patrick Leary, an Assistant Manager at Point S Tire in Bend.
This weekend might not see a snowstorm, but that doesn’t mean waiting to prioritize safety.
“Right now it’s still like 60, 70 degrees, and most people are thinking they don’t have to put on their snows for a while, or not at all,” Leary said. “But more than likely in the next week or two, that temperature is just going to drop drastically and then they’re going to need them on fast.”
“People need to prepare ahead of time while it’s still 70 degrees out,” Davey added. “Thinking ahead that they are or could encounter snow this weekend. So make sure that you’ve got good tires on your vehicle, you’ve got some extra supplies packed in the car.”
Leary said the biggest mistake people make in getting new tires is waiting for the last minute, when the roads have already become icy.
“When snow touches the ground, everybody is going to want to put on immediately,” he said. “And, of course, we’re first come, first serve here. But I can only do so many cars in a day, so it’s usually smart to get them on at least a couple a week or a couple of days before you know it’s going to snow.”
Other tire stores in the area often are booked out for several weeks during tire changing season. So if you just try to walk in, you may be walking right back out with no luck.
Leary recommended Nokian Hakkapeliitta traction tires, and G4 all-weather tires. He said while studded tires can cause damage to roads, only using them for a couple of months during the winter can reduce those impacts.
For this weekend, ODOT recommends giving yourself extra time when traveling long distances and slowing down to create more space between yourself and other drivers.
“It’s kind of hard to start getting your brain into gear to think about winter driving, but it is coming,” Davey said. “And if it doesn’t happen this weekend, but it looks like it is, it’s going to be soon.”
You can look at TripCheck.com to see all pass cams on roads over the Cascades.