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Gear up for a blizzard

Updated on August 22, 2013

White Christmas or Not - Prepare for that winter snowfall before it happens

I'm not sure where you were during the blizzard we had in DC in 2009, but I know I wasn't geared up for a blizzard that year. I remember awakening early and looking out my bedroom window onto a snowy back yard. Large flakes were falling quickly - so quickly in fact that the dogs were covered after coming back in from their early constitutional. And, let me tell ya: they weren't dilly-dallying - they were out and in within about one minute!

That snowfall lasted from December 16-20, 2009 (it was a white Christmas that year!) and dumped a record 30" of snow in the DC area. My backyard ruler was buried but, once I grabbed a yardstick, I saw that we had accumulated 36" during those 4 days. i wasn't prepared for that blizzard, nor was anyone else I knew. But, I learned my lesson so I'm gearing up for a blizzard this time around. Old Man Winter isn't going to catch me unawares again.


Single-stage snowblowers versus dual-stage (two-stage) snowblowers

The perfect Christmas present for someone in a snowy area

I live in an old farmhouse 20 miles north of DC so, although we have similar weather to the rest of the DC suburbs, I live right on the other side of a weather ridge. If DC registers 2" of rain, I might well have 20" of snow! And, with a rather long driveway and the immediate need to be able to get 95 year old Mom, Gertie, up and out of the house, this means that her ramp and the driveway must be cleared. That's where a good snowblower comes into play.

There are basically two types of snowblowers on the market - single-stage and dual-stage. The single-stage snowblower has just one blade which not only scoops up the snow but throws it also. This type of snowblower gets right down to the blacktop each and every time. The dual-stage snowblower has one blade for scooping up the snow and one auger for throwing the snow as far as 12". The dual-stage snowblower will cut through ice and snow but will always leave just a bit of snow area on the ground as the metal blade stays just clear of the ground to prevent scratching the blade.

Single-stage snowblowers are fine for a basic snowfall

Single-stage snowblowers work best when each snowfall is 6" or less. Anything more and this type of snowblower is not powerful enough to move the snow.

Dual-stage snowblowers work better on heavy snows from 12-18"

Dual-stage snowblowers are the big brothers to single-stage snowblowers. If you live in one of the Northeastern states, you're familiar with the wet, heavy snowfalls frequenting those areas. A single-stage snowblower is just not powerful enough to do the task you need done. So, get out your wallet and get the tool that's right for the job.

The time to prepare your driveway and sidewalks for a snowfall is before it starts!

Deicer and snow melts work pretty well on top of fresh snow but, if you really want to get ahead of the storm, pre-treat the areas before the storm. Selecting the proper snow melt is the name of the game. For instance, if you have pets, make 100% sure to get pet safe snow melt. Pets will almost always lick their paws when they come inside and you certainly don't want to kill off little fluffy.

Snow melts can also kill plants, get tracked into the house and ruin carpets, and will rust any metal they touch so be careful with the stuff. There are also some new "green" snow melts on the market. Green snow melts add in some additional safe ingredients to limit the harmful effect to the environment.

Gear up for a blizzard with green snow melts or deicers

As mentioned above, "green" snow melts help protect the environment and our pets from the harmful effects of regular snow melts. Please consider paying just a bit more to keep the earth and Fido healthy.


This ice melt has a cool green color so you can see where you've spread it. CleanMelt Ice Melt is a corn based product that melts ice down to -10 degrees.


Tips to being prepared for a blizzard

As mentioned above, I've been through a few blizzards but none like the winter of 2009-2010. I learned quite a few things about preparing for a snowfall, mostly through trial and error.

  1. Park your car so it's facing out of your driveway. This is a no-brainer but it took my brain a few days to figure it out! No reason to have to back through snow drifts to get out. Also, if your driveway is long, like mine is, park your car closer to the street. Less shoveling to do.
  2. Cover your car's windows with a shield against ice or snow. This makes it much easier to clear the windows in the morning.
  3. Spread ice melt before a projected snowfall. Spreading ice melt early allows it to work better and keep the walks clear longer.
  4. If you have a fireplace, make sure your wood is covered. We use a tarp tacked down with stakes to cover our wood pile. This makes it easier to get to the wood when you need it.
  5. Don't park under trees when a heavy snowfall is projected. We have huge oak trees (planted in 1857) which hold up pretty well during heavy snowfalls but our large tulip poplar drops branches constantly. We've got quite a few dings on the hood as a result.
  6. Wash your pets paws off each time they come inside. Hopefully, you're using pet-friendly snow melt but that doesn't mean everyone else is. If you walk your dog, you must clean his or her paws when you return home. Ingesting salt is definitely not good for animals!
  7. If you have an elderly person living with you (like I do), make sure to clear the driveway enough to get emergency equipment to the house, if needed.

Don't spare the expense on a good shovel

Throw out that old metal snow shovel and invest in one of the newer lightweight shovels. Moving snow is no picnic but it will be much easier with a lighter shovel.

Gear up for a blizzard with some other interesting snow shovels

While checking out items for this Squidoo article, I found some interesting things on Amazon for clearing snow - the most interesting are listed below.

Warm gloves and layered outerwear will keep you warm during a blizzard

When working outside in blizzard conditions, warm gloves and layers of clothing are a must. As you get warmed up, just peel off the outer layer of clothing and keep going....

Dry boots and gloves FAST so you're ready for your next snow shoveling experience

DryGuy Wide-Body Boot and Glove Dryer
DryGuy Wide-Body Boot and Glove Dryer

I LOVE this idea! The DryGuy Boot and Glove dryer dries most garments within an hour although customer reviews show that some wetter items (like soaked boots) may take up to 3 hours. Regardless, the DryGuy is must quicker than placing your boots by the fire and much safer too! It's your choice to dry with heat or just air.


I know I have a lot of readers from up north and would love to hear your comments on this Squidoo article - anyone may comment (not just Squidoo members) so please let me know about your experiences dealing with blizzards.

Got snow?

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    • mariacarbonara profile image

      mariacarbonara 4 years ago

      I really miss the snow but not the cleanup!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I go reminder that winter will be here again, and its best to have what we need in case of a blizzard. :I love winter, but summer is my favorite time of year...and spring and fall.

    • Blackspaniel1 profile image

      Blackspaniel1 5 years ago

      We do not have blizzards, and rarely any snow. Once a few flakes fall, we declare a holiday and everyone goes home.

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 5 years ago from Land of Aloha

      It's been a long while since I had to deal with snow, but it sure is pretty to look at. :)

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 5 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      Since moving to Phoenix, I haven't had to worry about snow, but I do miss it. You've provided a great array of products to move it around!

    • NickyT LM profile image

      NickyT LM 6 years ago

      Now this is one lens I can definitely wrap my head around. Every year I say I'm going to be better prepared for the bad weather, and every year I struggle along. Thanks for the reminder that being prepared is something we all must do without fail.

    • profile image

      jimmyworldstar 6 years ago

      I use a single stage snowblower since the snows where I live aren't too bad. I don't pre-treat my driveway since it's typically not snowing like a blizzard but I do keep my car windshield covered in case any ice forms or a branch comes tumbling down.