A Winter in Idaho

Posted by Hughes Group Blog on Monday, December 16th, 2019 at 4:40pm.


If there is one thing about Idaho, it is that there are indeed four distinct seasons. Most of the year, the weather is delightful and sunny with a few scattered showers. Summer can be a little on the hot end of the spectrum, but fall and spring are basically the best weather. Idaho is simply a beautiful place to live and enjoy outdoor activities during those times of the year. Even summer is not that bad even when temperatures are a bit on the hotter end of the spectrum. Now when it comes to Idaho winters, it depends on how much snow and freezing temperatures the area gets. It can be a warmer winter where there is nearly no snow at all, or it can be a doozy of a winter sometimes. It is not always that bad. There are times where it is mostly sunny days intermixed with some heavy snowfall to make sure there is plenty of skiing and snowshoeing to be done, but there are times where Idaho weather can be a bit more challenging. Many of you probably remember the more substantial snowstorm that struck a few years ago referred to as snowmaggedon by many who lived or visited the area during that timeframe. It was surely a lot of snow, though, beyond the task of removing snow from the driveway and sidewalks, driving a bit slower only when needed, and having more snow fun, it wasn't all that bad. If you're considering making Idaho your home, there might be weather-related times that lean toward the more difficult end of the spectrum, but I would say the good outweighs the bad as it's not every day of the year that the fluffy white snow is ready for fun. However, that does not mean you have to be content with the bad. If you know what is coming in winter and how to deal with it, your experience will be much improved and a lot more fun.

A great starting place for winter weather is the trees, watch for dead trees and be sure to trim away any dead branches before snowfall. Also, keep watch for telephone poles that look like they are about ready to topple over. Extreme weather tends to turn these kinds of things into unwanted falling risks to your home or your car. Pipes are also vulnerable to freezing. If the temperature gets low and there is water running through the pipes of your home, that water will freeze. When it freezes, it changes shape and expands. When it expands, it pushes against the pipe and potentially breaks it. While everything is still frozen, you are probably not going to notice a problem, but once the pipes start to thaw the water gets going again, it is likely going to spray everywhere. One special consideration is to make sure that when you leave for an extended amount of time and freezing weather is forecasted. You may consider having a professional winterize your home by properly turning off the water to your bathrooms and other water-related fixtures. If pipes freeze and burst while you are there, at least you can fix the problem immediately. If pipes freeze and burst while you are gone, you will come home to a flooded house and maybe a very high utility bill.

Probably the most essential thing to be thinking about is keeping yourself warm. This means having the right clothing for the right occasion. A light jacket during a blizzard is going to do little to nothing for you. The cold will just cut right through it and freeze you. If you are going somewhere that you know has bad winters, always bring the appropriate gear to stay comfortable and safe. Maybe consider storing an extra coat in the trunk of the car just in case you misgauged how cold it really is going to be. You may not necessarily be able to buy it when you get there. One thing that people sometimes do not realize is that your extremities are what gets cold first. Be sure to have all the extras that make all the difference such as gloves, hats, warm socks, layer layer layer. You can always remove and extra unwanted layers, though finding out that you don't have enough to protect you from the cold once you're in, it is no fun! There is a reason people get frostbite. Most of the warmth in your body comes from your core, your core being your heart. As your body stretches out and limbs get farther away from that core, they lose their warmth. Make sure you take extra precautions to protect these places against the cold.

Driving in winter is going to be a crucial skill you need to master if you plan on driving. A lot of people are not ready to drive when there is snow or ice on the road and end up crashing our getting themselves and others hurt. Being prepared is always the better option. My general recommendations beyond looking up a guide to snow driving that goes into more detail are to drive and accelerate slowly and practice where you can. Also, consider planning ahead with road preparedness tools that will drastically change how you experience the roads, like chains and snow tires. Consider starting slow in less populated areas for practice until you feel more comfortable getting onto the main roads. If you keep yourself at a low speed, you are less likely to skid, and you have more room for error if you need to stop quickly. The more room you give yourself to slow down to a stop, the better. The more room you put between yourself and others, the better. As for practice, find an empty parking lot on a snow day and get used to how your car feels without solid asphalt beneath the tires. How far does it take you to stop when you are going good speeds? What does skidding feel like? How do your brakes react to bad traction? These questions will keep you safe when you answer them. Don't forget, black ice. If this is something you have never experienced, it is a consideration not to be missed. Black ice is nearly impossible to detect, and it's ice, making driving a bit tricky. A guide to snow driving will likely cover the does and don't of driving on black ice. Protect yourself and those around you by getting informed and staying safe. 

A final thing to keep in mind. Not all of Idaho is created equally when it comes to weather. The southern part of the state can be pretty temperate, even when November rolls around. It will likely get it a fair amount of snow but not as much as what the northern part of the state will see. If you are in the handle of Idaho, where the state meets Canada, you should be far more prepared for winter than if you are in the valleys of the south. However, there are certain winter concerns for the south; they just are not the same as the north. For example, inversions are common and troubling. Weather will stick around for a long time if it is trapped in a specific location by mountains. It can make for a delightful sight if you can get above the inversion to check out all the clouds blocking off the world, but it also means long bouts of cloudy weather and pollution that likes to stick around for many lower regions and valleys.

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