Extreme cold in USA

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corrsk
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Extreme cold in USA

Post by corrsk » Wed Nov 19, 2014 12:16 am

How is everyone handling the extreme cold weather here in the USA. I work nights on the Ohio Michigan line. I am about 30 miles from home by car and about 25 miles by foot.

At night with the wind chill it's been getting down to -8 degrees. In weather like this it's very difficult to stay warm when spending significant amounts of time outside. Even with a good system of layers and carharts it's difficult.

If I was forced to get home on foot I would have to keep moving continuously the whole way. It wouldn't be too difficult unless something were to happen near the end of my shift. If that were the case I would have already been up for 12-14 hours and would already be quite tired.

A worse case scenario is that we have a significant snow fall in my area. 25 miles is not an easy hike but very doable. However throwing in the problem of a foot of snow or more makes it a difficult challenge.

I've had some difficulty prepping for that. I'm sure someone will make a comment about snow shoes. I suppose that would be the best way to go. However the problem is that it's difficult to train with those when there is no snow on the ground. It would be more of a trial by fire.

I would be grateful for any suggestions. Currently my plan is to hope I can get home in my vehicle or at least most of the way there.


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Re: Extreme cold in USA

Post by Chef » Wed Nov 19, 2014 1:23 am

We brought in the potted plants and covered the Bird of Paradise with an old sheet. I wore a fuzzy hat that covered my ears when I went out to get beer and smokes critical supplies. Turned on the heat. Life can be hard in northeast Florida. :ohdear:

But seriously, there were some cyclonic winds when the front came through yesterday. Nothing major in terms of tornadoes, but locally it played havoc with powerlines, gutters, and lawn furniture yesterday. Re-checked water, food, battery supplies, etc., because just because.
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Re: Extreme cold in USA

Post by Halfapint » Wed Nov 19, 2014 1:26 am

Luckily in my AO temps have been "cold" aka 25 degrees out.

25 miles home in that cold, without a car IS doable but you'd be stupid to do it. MOST cars can handle a couple feet of snow, on a road. My favorite car in the snow was a 95 civic hatch with the 1.8 engine it it. It was a manual so I'd just start in second and I'd make it everywhere. I pulled out Subies, lifted Chevy's, and other AWD cars with that FWD civic. You just have to know your capabilities, and have chains.

That said snow shoes are cool, but in a foot of snow I think a good pair of gators, and some nice boots will do you a hell of a lot better than snow shoes. Snow shoes make a 25 mile trip into about 50 miles. IMHO you'd be better off with a nice pair of water/snow proof boots and gators with some hard shells to protect you from the elements.

This is only my opinion, so YMMV, but make sure whatever you do you make sure you're careful.
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Re: Extreme cold in USA

Post by Honeypot » Wed Nov 19, 2014 1:57 am

corrsk, are you working outdoors, or in an office, or a mix?
Are you alone, or with others?
If outdoors, are you in some sort of utility company vehicle, or something else?


Without snowshoes, walking thru a foot of snow is exhausting. 25 miles is not an option, in my experience.

Snowshoes are extremely novice friendly.
You can even very easily kludge a pair out of pine fronds and cordage. First time I tried that, they performed much better than I was expecting. I would not hesitate to try that, or recommend it to someone else.
It's definitely worth experimenting with at home. Do it for fun, first. :) Then try a half mile or so, and increase, to see how they and you perform.


That was the good news, now let's do a reality check...

Doing 25 miles in snow, is insane, without good physical conditioning. Even with top of the line snowshoes, that's a brutal haul. In my youth, I might have been able to do that with difficulty, but I like to think I'd have had enough sense to shelter in place, instead.

How are you set up to shelter in place?
How remote are you - in other words, how likely are you to be completely abandoned, and not have a reasonable chance of a lift from a friendly motorist? In my experience, the more remote one is, the more likely a passing car will stop, if it's clear you're in trouble.


I strongly recommend you put together a good sleep-in-car kit. Since size and weight are not factors, you can go cheap and load up some old comforters/etc. Add chemical hand/body/foot warmers (but do not trust them!). Add a full extra set of head/body/hand/feet clothing.
Add visual distress indicators, for example, reflective triangle(s), reflective vests, etc (if you're a utility worker, you should already have those in your company provided load out - I list them mainly for "civvies").

If you don't already, get into the habit of bringing at least one decent sized thermos of hot water. Consider buying some FRHs ("Flameless Ration Heaters"), and some proper meals (Hormel Compleats and/or MRE entrees), as well as the usual selection of car snacks.

Having the ability to make a hot meal, while sitting in your car, gives you something stress reducing (and morale improving!) to do while you wait for a kindly motorist. :)

TheEpiCenter carries "oversize" FRHs that are big enough for Hormel Compleats.
They're near the bottom here:
http://theepicenter.com/mre_military_me ... o_eat.html
I recently read a very favorable review by my favorite prepper blog, and I'm planning to buy some, soon. :)
I always carry "normal" FRHs and MRE entrees.

Important Tips:
  • at the point you realize you're in trouble, your vehicle is probably still warm or could be made so - add at least one more under layer then (when it's comfortable to strip down and redress), and you will greatly increase your long-term comfort
  • test your car sleeping system at home (in your car), at various temperatures, taking naps - everyone's comfort range is different, and calibrating yours before a disaster will give you confidence and information to make decisions
I would never try a trek at night, without a stunningly good reason.
Wait for full daylight, and hope for a lift.


I grew up in the Upper Peninsula, and can safely sleep thru the night in my car down to about -25, with proper gear. Your mileage will vary.
It's very "easy" to freeze to death at much warmer temperatures, particularly without good gear.
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Re: Extreme cold in USA

Post by DannusMaximus » Wed Nov 19, 2014 2:01 am

Halfapint wrote: MOST cars can handle a couple feet of snow, on a road.
Man, going to respectfully disagree with you on that one, halfapint. I can think of very, VERY few passenger vehicles (including trucks) that could get anywhere in 24" of unplowed snow. That amount of snow would likely be a record breaker in my AO and pretty much any AO south of me, and would be a significant snowfall pretty much anywhere in the U.S.

OP If I was at work and was faced with 24" of snow, unless I absolutely had to get home, I would just stay there. Plan to shelter in place for 24 hours or so. As soon as the snow stops falling, most major roads are driveable within a day in my area. If you live off the beaten path and the roads to your house won't be passable for a couple of days, maybe try and stay with a friend or relative until you can make it back? I personally think driving off into the type of winter wonderland you're describing (below zero windchill, significant snowfall) is a recipe for sadness unless you have a very straight shot to your house on major roads, or unless you have a vehicle with a proven track record as a snow buster. WALKING off into said winter wonderland seems like a thinly veiled suicide attempt unless you are VERY prepared - - definitely not a case for a 'trial by fire' unless you have no other options.

Regardless, carrying enough supplies in your car for an impromptu bivouac of 24 hours should get you through being stranded at work, at a friend's, or in your vehicle due to snowfall.
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Re: Extreme cold in USA

Post by Maast » Wed Nov 19, 2014 2:21 am

Speaking as somebody who (when I lived in Anchorage AK) used to routinely go out and hunt small game on snowshoes I can tell you that you're not going to make 25 miles in anything less than 3 days, if you're lucky.

Yes they enable you to stay above the snow, and yes they're better than just boots. But they're a hell of a lot of work. Even the small bearpaw style is a hell of a lot of work.

However if you need to make distance, cross-country skis would work great, especially if you're going along snow-covered roads that are fairly flat. With skis you can make 25 miles in a day easily, and carry a significant payload.
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Re: Extreme cold in USA

Post by Towanda » Wed Nov 19, 2014 4:27 am

OP, I live ~35 miles from the Michigan-Ohio line. You're not going to walk any 25 miles in two feet of snow and/or -8 wind chill. Have blankets, chemical warmers, and some way to heat food in your car and plan on sheltering in place or spending the night at a motel until the roads are clear. If you don't have room in your car for blankets, get an Adventure Medical Kits Mylar bivvy sack. Other winter gear to keep in your car has already been listed, so I won't repeat the list. I will point out that hot food or a hot drink can literally be a lifesaver if your core temperature is dropping.

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Re: Extreme cold in USA

Post by corrsk » Wed Nov 19, 2014 5:18 am

I'm working outdoors on my own. Mix between outside and in my car but the car is generally not running when I'm in it. I'm not in a very remote area. I'm about 20 minutes south of detroit so personally I think I'd be better off walking than accepting rides. I figure if the weather took a turn for the worse I could probably get halfway to 3/4 of the way home. I've done some decent ruck marches in cold weather but that was with temps around 20 with the wind chill. It's been getting around -5 at night here. With the temp being that low it could be significantly dangerous to walk. Although I do keep some extreme weather clothing with me. The key thing would be to go at a pace that won't make me sweat.


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Re: Extreme cold in USA

Post by corrsk » Wed Nov 19, 2014 5:19 am

Towanda are you in ohio or Michigan?


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Re: Extreme cold in USA

Post by RESCUE-K9 » Wed Nov 19, 2014 10:26 am

If you want to see how most normal cars will do in un plowed snow just take a look at the pictures and videos of all the cars stranded on Lakeshore drive a few years back
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7-SJB7SrNA
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Re: Extreme cold in USA

Post by Wraith6761 » Wed Nov 19, 2014 11:08 am

Maast beat me to it, but cross country skis would be your best bet for covering that amount of distance in that timeframe.

As for the car thing...I've gotten an '05 Neon with all-season tires 30 miles through 11 inches of unplowed snow before (hooray for jobs as "essential personnel"). It was not a fun experience, and it only worked cause I knew the roadway very very well (especially the locations of the deep "avoid at all costs" potholes), and I only had to make 3 turns during the trip. Would I want to do it again? Hell no. But can it be done? Yeah, it can.
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Re: Extreme cold in USA

Post by Towanda » Wed Nov 19, 2014 11:10 am

Corrsk, I'm in Michigan.

You are far better off preparing to stay with your car than preparing to hike 25 miles in this kind of weather.

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Re: Extreme cold in USA

Post by Barnabus » Wed Nov 19, 2014 5:23 pm

last year when we had the heavy snow down here, it took me 6 hours to make a 20 minute drive. And even then I was unable to make it to my home, and had to ask for sanctuary at a church, where some church employees were trapped. This year I plan on staying at my job if weather starts getting bad. I have a camp cot, and a sleeping bag stored in the back of my SUV. My office already has a couple weeks of canned goods I've stashed for lunches.
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Re: Extreme cold in USA

Post by TacAir » Wed Nov 19, 2014 8:20 pm

Cold? What cold? Last nite it was +40F in Anchorage.

BTW fun site to check weather patterns

http://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wi ... ,64.16,387
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Re: Extreme cold in USA

Post by angelofwar » Wed Nov 19, 2014 10:37 pm

We were just talking about this today at work...I survived the South Carolina Ice-Pocalyose last year by have a genny, portable lighting, and space heaters...

We were talking about car survival though, and as i told my coworker, if your stuck in a vehicle in serious cold/snow, you're better off sleeping in an Ice Cave at night with a candle, small fire, than staying in a car that won't run/is out of gas. The inside of the vehicle actually get's colder than the air outside...

Pack fatty foods in your winter vehicle kit...and plenty of fire making methods. In addition to my normal vehcile survival kit, in the winter/spring/fall, I keep 3 wool blankets, a decent CWG kit, and extra emergency mylar blankets...
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Re: Extreme cold in USA

Post by uncleben03 » Wed Nov 19, 2014 11:21 pm

Last year, we had -50F wind chills here in Iowa on several occasions. It wasn't very fun, but in almost 100% of circumstances in that cold, I plan to shelter in place, whether it's home, work or in a vehicle.m I prepare my own vehicles and my work truck to be able to stay in it for a couple days if need be. We've actually had decent weather here this year by comparison, even though it snowed earlier than normal and have broken record low high temperatures for this time of year so far.

The only time I would try going anywhere in that temperature, if I was stranded, would be if It was a "you're either going to die here, or die trying to go somewhere else" type of deal, but that's pretty extreme.

I would also have to say that the statement that "most passenger cars can handle up to 2 feet of snow" is about as far from the truth as possible. Most standard passenger cars have trouble in 6" of snow. I have a jeep with real 4wd, 33" tires and 5 inches of lift. I've had it in 2.5 feet of snow and that's starting to push the limits of that vehicle for sure.

ETA:
forgot to mention that IMO, just not traveling at all during severe weather winter is the safest bet. Cold is a quick killer. Quicker than heat, I would venture. Unfortunately, some of us don't have the option to stay home all the time. I work for a company that services critical communication infrastructure (radio systems, 911 phone systems, etc...), and we are on call 24/7. If we don't fix things, 911 calls don't get answered, public safety radio goes down, and dispatch centers cease to operate. Obviously these things are critical during severe weather, as rescue workers do their thing. Luckily, they gave me a Jeep (a liberty (boo), but it's got real lever activated 4x4 and I make sure to buy awesome tires for it. I've had to venture out in some pretty gnarly winter weather especially last year, but as I said earlier, I plan to be able to stay in my vehicle at remote tower sites for a couple days if necessary.
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Re: Extreme cold in USA

Post by azrael99 » Thu Nov 20, 2014 12:37 am

for those that can still prepare yourself

keep in mind :

keep in your car some of theses items:

-boosting cable

-warm wool blanket.

-warm clothes : avoid cotton, put in high priority wool.

-water : even when frozen, you can melt it , you need to stay hydrated. or you could melt some snow too , but don't forget to boil it to kill all the germ

-food : dry food if you can, like energy bar, nuts, noodle (if you have a propane heater to boil water)

-coffee or anything you can use as a warm beverage. it will comfort you and keep you warm

-propane heater, make sure to use one that safe to use inside.

-candle : for light and as a source of heat

-matches or a lighter

-hand cranked flash light

-some kind of emergency signal : torch, orange flag etc...... to show your position
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Re: Extreme cold in USA

Post by Sworbeyegib » Thu Nov 20, 2014 4:02 pm

Take care everyone. You guys are much tougher than I am this time of year.

I'm still cranking my AC.
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Re: Extreme cold in USA

Post by Fu Shen » Thu Nov 20, 2014 4:44 pm

It's brutally cold here and I'm still clinging to the fact that it's not actually winter.

I need to pack my car kit. Last week.

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Re: Extreme cold in USA

Post by manowar1313 » Fri Nov 21, 2014 6:11 pm

I had to get my long underwear and heated blanket from my moms house. Sucked cause it was 70 and 27 in the same afternoon.
azrael99 wrote:for those that can still prepare yourself
keep in mind :
keep in your car some of theses items:
I would also strongly suggest a spare phone. A cheap burner will cost you $10 bucks and you don't have to keep it active to be able to call 911. I know a man from my AO died in a car wreck that could have been prevented with a phone call.

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Re: Extreme cold in USA

Post by zombiestop » Fri Nov 28, 2014 8:46 pm

Move father south. Drive until the cold can't keep up with you :)

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Re: Extreme cold in USA

Post by azrael99 » Fri Nov 28, 2014 9:07 pm

what is the coldest you ever faced ?


i once worked 2 weeks in the field in the army, sleeping in tent.

guess the temperature ......................much colder than what you though. it was -50, during the day...........-55 at night :gonk:
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Re: Extreme cold in USA

Post by Impus » Sat Nov 29, 2014 2:52 pm

Personal anecdote:

The Winter of '93 I was driving my Grandmother's '88 Honda Civic from NJ to VT. It got dark, and temps dropped well below 0F. The car had never been in sub-zero temps and there was a fair mount of moisture in the fuel system. I found myself stranded in whiteout conditions a good 10 miles from anything on roads no one was going to bother plowing 'till first light.

Stupidly, I had no car kit. Luckily, Grandma had left two trash bags of laundry in the trunk. Grandma's dirty laundry got dumped in the back seat, and I burrowed in to await the sun. When day came, the residents of the house I was parked in front of but could not see for the dense snowfall let me come in, warm up, and call a tow truck.

AAA picked up the tab for the tow and all the mechanic did, much to my embarrassment, was pour a bottle of HEET in the gas tank and wait for the lines to thaw out in the work bay. For want of a $2-$3 bottle of line drier, I almost froze to death. The stuff also makes good fuel for an alcohol stove, which might be something to put in your car kit (caveats about suffocating to death apply).
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Re: Extreme cold in USA

Post by Boondock » Tue Jan 06, 2015 9:31 pm

Anyone else gearing up for this week's mini vortex 2015? Most of the schools in Chicagoland will be closed Wednesday.

I'm finishing up laundry and dishes now. Shopped at Costco this weekend and got the groceries this afternoon. Earlier, I shoveled off the remainder of last night's snowfall.

Looks like my son and I will be buttoned up at home with Sesame Street, crayons and Play Doh. I might hang a new set of blinds in the dining room, if possible.

Since the severe cold isn't supposed hit until early morning, I'll turn on the faucets when I wake up.

Unfortunately, Mrs. Boondock's library is open, so it's highly likely she'll suit up in Polartec waffle top and bottoms for her commute.

Stay safe and warm everyone.

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