[Vwdiesel] TDI Passet 4 Motion

Roger Brown r.c.brown at ieee.org
Sat Feb 24 11:12:06 EST 2007

William J Toensing wrote:
> Some of you from snow country have expressed surprise over Calif. chain requirements in the 
> mountains, when it snows. I grew up in Minnesota or "Minne-snow-ta" as I some times call it. 
 > I never used chains back there & first considered it an insult to be required to use chains as I
 >know how to drive in snow. I moved to Calif. when I was 36 years old, in 1969. However, you don't
 > argue with the CHP, you chain up or don't drive when chains are required.
 > Often, four or all wheel drive cars are exempt from chain requirements.
> The problem here is most Californians don't know how to drive in snow or bad weather, 
 > unless they come from snow country as I do. Also, our snow is usually a sticky wet type
 > known as "Sierra Cement". This is because the temperature is  usually around freezing when
 > it snows, whereas it is usually much colder when it snows in Minn. In addition,
 > you have heavy traffic & steep grades in the mountains, & an accident can & does cause gridlock.

The full chain control story is on the Cal Trans page:

Rarely ever see the R3 conditions, as they usually close the highway/freeway before things get that 
bad (usually due to blowing snow and poor visibility).  Only the main highways have manned chain 
control check stations, the smaller roads will have signs up.  Usually with R2 conditions, they 
will impose a 25 MPH speed limit as well and 4WD/AWD are required to carry chains, although I have 
never been asked to show them.

Probably a few factors come into play with the chain controls.  One is that since there is only 
snow in the mountains, most folks don't normally run snow tires.  I used to slap on a set of 4 
snows on my VW when heading up skiing, then take them off the day after returning.  The other issue 
is that the snowfall rates can be very high, many inches of snow per hour up at 7000' and higher, 
and long stretches of road up high over the passes, so it is hard to keep the snow clear when it is 
coming down heavy (and salt is not used).  And yes, there are steep grades and sharp turns on the 
mountain passes.  Plus I think there is one other reason for the chains, that is that storms rarely 
last for more than a few days in the Sierra and then the normal sunny weather returns.  With the 
cars running chains, the compact snow and ice on the roadway is broken up faster.  Once dark 
pavement shows through, the sun hits it and it melts away in a few hours.  I guess as an 
alternative to salting the roads, that is OK.


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