Too Soon to Tire of Winter

  • Al George, of Plainfiled, N.H., watches his shot when hitting a bucket of balls at Fore-U Golf Center in West Lebanon, N.H., on April 14, 2018. This was his eighth time at the center since it opened on April 2. Dressed in water- and wind-proof jacket and pants, George said "Ya gotta dress warm or you can't play well." In addition, he said, he kept his pajamas on and they were helping to keep him warm. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Saturday, April 14, 2018

West Lebanon — Those who have already stored their snow tires in the garage might be disappointed to realize that the next week is likely to contain bursts of sleet, snow and freezing rain mixed in with a lengthy dose of April showers.

Under dark, chilly skies at a West Lebanon supermarket on Saturday afternoon, Jan Spafford and her daughter, Stacy Burnett, of Orange, N.H., said they knew people who’d had their tires swapped out last Friday — driving through snowfall to get to the garage.

“This year, we may have to wait until July,” said Spafford.

“Usually by now, we’ve changed over,” said Burnett, “but this year, the weather’s been hanging on so long that we’re holding off.”

Early Saturday morning, the National Weather Service released a winter weather advisory that was to remain in effect in areas including the Upper Valley from late Saturday morning through 8 p.m. tonight.

“The expected snow and ice will result in difficult travel conditions and reduced visibilities at times,” according to the advisory. “The greatest travel impacts and accumulation of snow and sleet on roadways is expected during the nighttime hours.”

Tire industry experts often use the first week of April as a good time to swap out snow tires, but some emphasize the need to reduce wear and tear by taking the cold-weather tires off early, and others recommend waiting until all threat of snow has passed before reducing your vehicle’s winter capacity. 

Each year, roughly 200 people die in about 11,000 tire-related motor vehicle crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 

Many Vermonters say that when it comes to guessing which snowfall is the last, they’ve learned to err on the side of caution.

“Always wait until after tax day,” said Lannie Collins, of Quechee. He said that rule of thumb has served him well. “I’m not worried about this storm now.”

Forecasts predicted less than an inch of accumulated snow and sleet throughout much of the Upper Valley by this morning, with another half-inch coming during the day, before the precipitation yields to freezing rain this evening.

A wintry mix is expected to continue to come down on Monday and Tuesday, and could continue through the latter half of the week as well.

Maryann Shaffer said she just recently returned to her Enfield home after three months in northern Florida. 

“I was hoping it would be sunny,” she said, adding that she might change her travel plans next year. “Southern California sounds pretty good.”

On Friday, Green Mountain Power announced it was mobilizing line and tree crews to respond to potential outages in four counties including Windsor, because of forecaster predictions of “possible gusty winds” of up to 40 miles per hour.

Other area residents, like Donny Gearon, of Newbury, N.H., and Cody Spaulding, of White River Junction, said they rode on one set of tires year-round, in part because of the temperamental weather.

“I keep them on all year,” said Gearon, of his all-weather tires.

“I’m not a fan of it,” said Spaulding, referring to the forecast for mid-April snow. “It’s always a mystery.”

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling can be reached at mhonghet@vnews.com or 603-727-3211.