What would have been a ten minute drive from the office to hom turned out to be a nearly two hour harrowing drive along thoroughly iced roads. I took the surface streets home wanting to avoid the totally gridlocked 520 freeway between Redmond and Kirkland. Even my front wheel drive Accord with decent tires could not deal with the ice rink conditions on 20th (ironically called Northup Way) on the long downslope section. Crawling along at a near stop, the grade, probably 5%, was enough that the car started creeping forward with no way to stop it. Nothing worked, gentle braking, slow pumping, fast pumping, Jedi mind tricks. The steering wheel had zero resistance, I could turn the wheels from complete left to right with no effect on direction, but with differential braking using the main brakes and the emergency back brakes, I manage to get the car to slide into the center separator curb. The car gently came to a stop then twisted diagonally pivoting on the curb chocked left front tire. It was easy to go into reverse to straighten it and then it started that slow slide down the hill again. Now this was disconterting because I wasn't the only person having this sort of problem. There were cars behind me in the same predicament heading inexorably and uncontrollably towards me. At least the SUV in front of me had moved forward, and with only a few seconds to go before sliding into his rear, I noticed the left turn lane was covered in snow. "Traction" I thought, so I managed to slide leftward into the lane and all was well again, that is, until the left hand lane ended. Fortunately, there was room to merge right without causing an accident and thankfully that was the bottom of ice hill. The rest of the journet home went without incident, albeit a very slow drive. I even made it up our steep driveway.
It's a Michigan winter in Seattle; huge snowflakes are dropping. Tomorrow temps will drop to the teens. I am staying home. This area is not prepared for these extremes.
You ran into a situation much like the one I had driving home in the first snowstorm. I promised myself to buy chains "real soon now", and didn't, and here we go again. Thankfully, there's little for me to do that requires being in the office, so I'm working at home today.
Yes, unscathed. I am used to driving in Michigan winters but I did not have the equipment to properly handle the roads last night. The tires on my car can handle everything up to but not including sheer ice conditions. Only chains or deep studs can work through ice and even then it is somewhat chancey. What really bother me was how cavalier people with chains took to roads. I saw an accident involving someone driving too fast with chains. They overestimated their car's ability and caused a great deal of trouble for it.
Fortunately, I can work from home, so I'll do that today.