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Cold Weather and Wind Chill Raises Driving Concerns


This is a picture of an SUV driving on a wintry road in icy condtions

Cold Weather and Wind Chill Raises Driving Concerns


Several counties in southwest Montana including Gallatin, Madison, and Beaverhead have a wind chill advisory until 11 a.m. today.  The wind chill warning was issued by the National Weather Service (NWS).  Wind chills can be extremely hazardous to residents.  Wind Chills can range in temperature, but the wind chill advisory in effect in the areas listed above warns temperatures can be between 10 and 30 degrees below zero.  According to, low wind chills are not necessarily a temperature reading; instead, they measure the heat loss to our body when exposed to the wind.  When wind chill temperatures are colder, the more dangerous it is for our body.  Severe wind chill temperatures can cause frostbite and hypothermia.  WeatherBug also reports that being exposed to below zero wind chills can induce frostbite within five minutes.  NBC Montana encourages people to cover all exposed skin and to limit the time you spend outdoors.  

NBC warns that lake effect snow is currently setting up on the southeast side of Flathead Lake.  There is an expected 3 inches from Yellow Bay to Polson.  The reason the temperatures are so cold is the arctic air continues to sweep down over Montana and will likely remain until the weekend.  Similarly, there is the possibility of snow until the weekend.  NBC cautions those who are planning to travel this weekend should recognize the weather could conceivably affect your trip.  

So what does a wind chill mean for your driving?  Fortunately, cars do not suffer from frostbite or hypothermia.  Wind does not take the heat out of your car the way it does take away from your body.  The only change is the wind could affect the length of time it takes for your car to hit its operating temperature.  When temperatures are cold, you want to ensure your vehicle is operating correctly.  You never want to drive if your car is not performing at its optimal level.  Driving in a car that is not road ready increases your risk of getting stranded or being involved in an accident.

What can you do to ensure your car is ready for the road?  According to the Chicago Tribune, you always want to take specific preventative measures when it is cold.  We suggest incorporating some of the following tips.

  1. Check your battery.  Typically, a battery should be changed every three to five years.  If you take your car to a mechanic during the cold weather months, ask the mechanic to check the battery and replace the spark plugs.  You can also check the battery yourself.  When doing so, check the cables leading to the battery while the car is off.  Be sure they are firm.  Fastening the nut on the cable is easy and can prevent power loss while driving.  You’ll also want to check the battery for corrosion.  If there is a white powder around the battery, especially the nodes or clamps, this can mean your battery is corroding.  If you do not want to get a new battery, just clean the areas with baking soda, water, and a toothbrush.  
  2. Check your S belt.  The S belt is also known as the serpentine belt.  It is usually the big belt that can be seen in front of the engine.  Typically, the belt has big grooves in it, not unlike a tire.  If these grooves are broken or damaged, you should think about changing it, so it doesn’t break during the colder months.
  3. Check windshield wipers.  This tip includes both the wipers themselves, as well as the windshield wiper fluid.  Windshield wiper blades can make visibility possible when a winter storm comes your way.  You need to be sure they can keep the snow from building up on your windshield.  You can probably fill the wiper fluid yourself.  Stores sell winter wiper fluids that have a higher concentration of alcohol making them less likely to freeze.  
  4. Refill your antifreeze.  If you haven’t flushed your antifreeze recently, it might be a good time to do so.  There are multiple colors available.  According to the Chicago Tribune article mentioned earlier, you do not want to mix colors.  
  5. Be sure you change your oil regularly.  
  6. A jump in temperature can cause a decrease in your tire pressure.  Many stores that sell tires will check your tire pressure for free.  
  7. Be sure you have an emergency kit ready to go in your car.  This kit should have everything you could need in the event of an emergency including a first aid kit, snacks, blankets, car phone charger, and other items.  Every car owner should assess their individual need and adjust their equipment accordingly.  


All in all, we want you to stay safe out there.  We help clients every day who have been involved in a dangerous situation with their car.  We want to help you avoid any possible problems that could occur.  If you have been involved in a car accident in Montana, contact the personal injury attorneys from The Advocates Law.  We will help you get back on your feet.  


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