Best way to Canaan Valley in severe weather
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RyanC
November 21, 2004
Member since 11/28/2003
160 posts
On a semi-related topic to the previous snow tires thread, here it goes: I will be traveling to CV frequently this winter (for the first time, didn't buy my place until ski season was ending), planning to go there from Baltimore, leaving straight from work around 6pm or so. I have front wheel drive w/ all season tires (don't really want the hassle of doing the snow tire thing, but I may after reading the thread on that topic). There are a few options:

*70-68-220-50-93-32 (my usual route)
*70-68-220-50-42-93-32 (Wondering if climbing the allegheny front on 50 would be better than on 93 since it's a U.S. route???)
*70-68-220-50-90-32 (a lesser known/traveled route, SR 90 is fairly flat, stradding the potomac on the md/wv line, goes through the little town of Bayard, lets you onto 32 in Thomas)
*70-68-219 (through DCL and Oakland) to 32. This definitely seems like the longest route, but is it the best bet at night in the snow??

My car is 10 yrs old (but is VERY reliable and well maintained) so breaking down isn't a concern, but I have to be more prepared for it than if I drove a brand new car, in the sense of keeping some supplies in the trunk in case of a breakdown scenario.

Thanks for any advice/input!
Glenn_C
November 21, 2004
Member since 11/14/2004
67 posts
I'm a little further south than you (DC) and take the 66-81-50-42-93-32 route every time. I used to do the 55 thing but have found in inclement weather that those cutbacks can be a bear and coming into the south end of the valley poses some snow drift challenges.

The only tough snow driving that I've found on the 42-93-32 route hasn't historically been the mountain hump. I've always found that side of the mountain pretty tame. There seems to be a weather divide there. The fierce stuff seems to be once you crest that mountain and start heading down that long 93 stretch. It's a beautiful wide open road but sometimes the drifting can eradicate the road boundaries (can't tell where the road edge ends and the fields begin). White out is pretty nasty along that road but thankfully it's only 10-15 minutes of your total drive. I just take it at a reasonable speed when the powder's deep and wave the 4x4's on by.
tomimcmillar
November 21, 2004
Member since 11/21/2004
129 posts
Ryan,

Looks like your Usual Route is just fine. Been headin to CV that way for years with nary a problem. Was driving an '86 2 wheel drive F150 the last few years and my only trouble spot was getting almost stuck in the Whitegrass parking lot with a set of bald tires. Drove down & back in a decent storm last Dec and no issues with the roads, was snowing at the bottom of the 42 climb and near whiteout across the Mt Storm plain, roads were in great shape.
I've always thought the 93 to 42 route was better than the 50 to 42, nicer climb/descent.
peace,
T
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
November 21, 2004
Member since 07/18/2001
1,914 posts
Most people believe that the 70-68-219 route via Oakland, MD, is the best route to go during storms--it's the easiest climb and minimizes your driving at high altitudes where snow and wind are the worst. However, I remember one friend complaining that this road is plowed less than 93 or 33. That seems hard to believe because it is an important access to the hospital in Oakland.

Avoid 93 via MT Storm at all costs. That's the worst road because it gets so much wind blown snow. They really need snow fences on that stretch of road!! Twenty minutes after a plow goes through, the area can still be impossible to negotiate.

Corridor H and then 33 via Seneca Rocks is another alternative. Except for the horribly exposed and wind blown summit of Allegheny Mountain, this road is generally ok. Also, the strech of 32 from Harman to CV is lower in altitude than the stretch from Davis to CV--hence, there is less snow and generally better driving conditions.
Glenn_C
November 21, 2004
Member since 11/14/2004
67 posts
Quote:

The fierce stuff seems to be once you crest that mountain and start heading down that long 93 stretch. It's a beautiful wide open road but sometimes the drifting can eradicate the road boundaries (can't tell where the road edge ends and the fields begin).




I've never heard of snow fences John. What are they made of and wouldn't cost on something like that be prohibitive to cover that long a piece of road? Anything to lessen the 93 drifting issue...its got my vote!! That is a scary stretch in a storm.
tgd
November 21, 2004
Member since 07/15/2004
585 posts
I'm with John on avoiding the stretch of 93 past the powerplant during a snowstorm. I've found the whiteouts and drifts to make for a pretty hairy drive - especially at night. Throw in some fog, and it's a white knuckler all the way into Davis. Don't discount the drive from Davis into the Valley either if it's really snowing - it's 8 additional miles of twisty-turny up-and-down 2 lane to cap off your trip.

I prefer the southern route of 55-33-32. I usually don't hit serious snow until Seneca Rocks. Route 33 over the Allegheny Front is the worst part - about 4 miles of steep climbing (going down on the way home is scarier than going up though). There are truck lanes too, which help you avoid getting stuck behind anyone having trouble climbing the Front. The summit of Allegheny Mountain is indeed as desolate and exposed a place as you'll ever want to see during a winter storm (what amazes me is that there are houses up there!). The ride down from the summit into Harman isn't bad. The southern approach into the Valley on 32 all the way to Timberline is pretty much a straight shot also. I also like that the WV DOT posts road conditions on their website for the stretch of 32 from Harman to Canaan (for some reason they post no conditions for any of the popular westbound routes from Virginia (50, 93, 42 or 55).
JohnL
November 21, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Glenn,

Snow fences look very similar to the fences you see at many Mid-Atlantic beaches - between the back of the beach and the start of the dunes. The fences have vertical slats spaced maybe a few inches apart joined together by wire. I believe they are relatively portable. IIRC, the general principle is to interrupt the flow of the wind, causing the snow in the air to fall to the ground. I guess the same principle applies to the beach fences causing the wind-blown sand to drop. Snow fences are very common in the Northeast.

I'm a bit surprised that several people have recommended 33 via Seneca Rocks as a good alternative in bad weather. I've only been to T-Line once and took that route, but I'd imagine it could get pretty hairy in bad road conditions. As long as I was the only car on the road in that stretch ...
RyanC
November 21, 2004
Member since 11/28/2003
160 posts
Thanks for the info everyone. Has anyone ever gone 50w past 93 and 42 cutoffs and taken SR 90, it's about a 10-12 mile road linking 50 and 32 in Thomas. It straddles the potomac. That would allow one to climb the Allegheny front on 50 instead of 93, and best of all avoid 93 through mt. storm area (which is apparently appropriately named!). I've gone this way in the summer and it's the same mileage from baltimore as going 93. I now have two options. The southern route is out since I'm coming from Baltimore, so:

*70-68-220-50-90-32 or
*70-68-219-32

are the two options. Anyone familiar with the lesser known SR 90 route?
gatkinso
November 22, 2004
Member since 01/25/2002
316 posts
It isn't too too bad anyway you go - just be careful if the weather is bad and keep the spped down - the half hour you save by driving fast is not worth it.

On another note I got new tires yesterday, plus I have been hitting the gym and shed 5 pesky pounds over the past month.... the elliptical trainer in reverse wil burn your quads something fierce: ok enough is enough BRING ON THE SNOW!
tromano
November 22, 2004
Member since 12/19/2002
998 posts
Great thread guys. I am always curious about how to more easily access our landlocked neighor to the west. I assumed that the easiest way would be 70-68-219... And it is the way that I know best since I go that way to all points west. I hate the PA TPK. I just wanted to suggest that rather than having two routes that people just pick a good route and stick to it.

All major roads are built with an appropriate safety factor (banked curves, ample shoulders, passing lanes up hills, lane markers and proper signage, phones for emergency, fuel / service stations, etc...) and are generally maintained to a sufficient level so that travelers are safe in any conditions. If the path you are on doesn't have those features then its not safe under any conditions and its probably a good idea to go another way. I wouldn't want to drive that road even it were clear weather. Cars can be brute beasts and you never know what will happen.

I suggest that you just find a good road stick to the same path you usually take. When it's dark and there is poor visibility (due to snow, rain, fog, etc...) it is much more important to know the road. You need to know distances between safe stoping places, where to get fuel, if you break down you need to know if there is a serivce area right arround the bend or if it's still 3 miles distant, etc... You will probabbly be safer on a road you know and are comfortable with than on a road that you have taken only once or twice (even if it technically an easier path). Don't keep going your usual way and then go a totally different way that you have never been before when the storm comes. If you don't know the road you won't know to slow down or watch out at key sections. This is all pretty obvious advice but no one has really brought it up to this point.

I don't know if the hightech GPS / road mapping aids would help, I have never used them. It might be interesting to see how they go. Like in the ralisport game for xbox, the copilot is constanly telling you where to go he is like "...Hard right, over crest, into hard left, danger exposeure... medium right, danger rocks indside, onto tarmac, into long straight..."
Glenn_C
November 22, 2004
Member since 11/14/2004
67 posts
Quote:

I'm a bit surprised that several people have recommended 33 via Seneca Rocks as a good alternative in bad weather. I've only been to T-Line once and took that route, but I'd imagine it could get pretty hairy in bad road conditions. As long as I was the only car on the road in that stretch ...




John,
I agree with you on the 33 route. I am up in CV weekly over ski season and have sworn off 33 for a few reasons. 1--you are only as fast as the vehicle in front of you since it is a one laner over most of the way and very few passing spots or truck lanes on the ascents; 2--as I said the winding road has always been a little brutal to me in snowy conditions and the entrance into the South end of the valey just before Canaan Resort gets some wicked drifts; and 3--my skip flop is in Davis so it's closer by about 13-15 miles to come in 93-32. I'll stick with 93. The snow fencing sounds like a great solution to the drifting issue and I'm sure those things are pennies on the dollar. How much can chicken wire and 1/4 inch wood slats run?

I'm not familiar with 90...never done it though I'll try almost anything once. Anybody out there done this route?
The Colonel - DCSki Supporter
November 22, 2004
Member since 03/5/2004
3,062 posts
Unlike Virginia, where one can generally be assured of safely making a curve at a speed a little above the posted "safe speed", in WV this is not the case. The speed shown is close to that which the last driver to go off the road was traveling.!!!
The Colonel
JohnL
November 22, 2004
Member since 01/6/2000
3,509 posts
Quote:

speed shown is close to that which the last driver to go off the road was traveling.!!!





Shades of Wily E. Coyote! Good one, Colonel.
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