Car Tips For Minnesota Winters

Car Tips For Minnesota Winters

This is a collection of excerpts from an article featured in the Chicago Tribune on January 17th, 2016. It was written by Robert Duffer and can  be read in its entirety here


While written originally for a Chicago audience, this is sure to be helpful for car and truck owners in Minnesota as well, even though Minneapolis average temperatures are 10 to 15 degrees colder in January and February. Keep warm and safe on the roads with these car tips for Minnesota winters!

Cars, like people, don’t function as well in cold weather. Your car doesn’t like it anymore than you. Because most employers frown on hibernating, we’ve compiled a list of precautions to increase the odds of your car functioning in extreme or unseasonable cold.

Preventative:

If you don’t have time to visit the mechanic, there are some things you can do on your own to optimize your vehicle’s performance.

Battery power:

Change the battery. Mechanics recommend changing it every 3 years, though you could get away with 5 years, depending on how much you drive and how you drive. If you see a mechanic, have him or her check the battery and replace the spark plugs.

Make sure the cables are not loose. With the engine off, see if the cables can slip free from the nodes. Don’t yank, but be firm. Tightening the nut is easy to do and can save you from a mid-drive battery loss that requires you to get out of the car and take off your gloves.

Check for corrosion. If there is a white powder, not unlike the dead skin of dried winter hands, around the nodes or the clamps then that could be a sign of corrosion. If you can’t get a new battery, then at least clean the nodes and clamps with baking soda, water and a toothbrush.

Under the hood:

While you’re there, check the status of your S belt, or serpentine belt. It’s the big one that is immediately visible at the front of the engine. The visible, or back side, has grooves like a tire. If they’re cracked or worn, then it might be time to consider changing it so it doesn’t snap in cold cold cold weather.

Fill your fluids:

Spend a buck and get a “winter blend” type of windshield wiper fluid. Winter blends have a greater concentration of alcohol and less water, so less likely to freeze.

Fill your antifreeze. If it hasn’t been flushed in a few years, then it could use it. Green-colored antifreeze is the most common; whichever color you choose, don’t mix colors. Coolant and antifreeze are interchangeable terms. Coolant is typically sold premixed, that is it is half water, half antifreeze, as it needs to be. Antifreeze can be pure and needs to be mixed. Check the bottle; it’ll tell you.

Check your oil. If it’s due for a change, consider refilling it with a lower viscosity oil. On the bottle it lists two numbers, or grades, the first for low temperature viscosity, the second for high temperature. 10W-30 is a common designation.

Wipers:

Visibility is key in all forms of driving, but winter conditions can limit visibility, and not just because of your faux-fur hood. If your blades have done just a mediocre job with the snow, it’s only going to get worse with the freeze. Winter wipers do a better job of swatting away moisture and can be had for under $20 for the pair.

Tire pressure:

Having the correct tire pressure is essential for proper handling. A temperature change of just 10 degrees can cause a ten percent reduction, or constriction, of air in tires. So tire pressure can be affected from day to night temperature. Check the optimal tire pressure of your vehicle on the label inside the driver’s door frame or in the owner’s manual. DO NOT USE THE PSI on the TIRE! That’s max capacity for the tire, not for your car’s specific load.

Additional preventative measures:

Buy an emergency kit with cables, first aid kit, flares, battery powered air compressor and other things that can prevent a minor inconvenience from becoming a major problem.

Check the clarity of all your lights. If your headlights are all fogged up, consider cleaning them with toothpaste. We haven’t tried this yet, but hear the results are magical.

Weather conditions are variable, and all cars handle them a bit differently, so as a car owner you have a responsibility to know your car. While this may not be legally advisable or practical in the current driving climate, consider finding a parking lot with no obstruction and practicing turns and braking in the conditions. Find out how the car reacts to your driving and adjust your driving accordingly. It shouldn’t be fun. Avoid doing cookies, but practice fishtailing to teach yourself how not to overcompensate by wrenching the wheel too far one way or the other. What level of acceleration might cause a spin out, how does the car turn in snow—all these things can be researched at minimal speeds.

Practice skids. If you’re in a skid, take it easy, don’t slam the brake; turn the wheel in the direction you want the vehicle to face, which you may have to do several times in a skid to straighten out. The most important thing is don’t freak out.

Idling:

Letting the car warm up is a comfort more for us than the car. Best practice is to start the car, then drive very simply until the oil gets heated. It’ll heat faster driving at slow speeds without sudden acceleration than just idling in your driveway. In extreme cold, however, many professionals recommend idling for a minute or two. Idling for 10-15 minutes, as Midwesterners are prone to do, could dilute the oil with unburned fuel, resulting in increased engine wear.

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Minnesota Ranks #1 On “Most Miserable Winter” List

Minnesota Ranks #1 On “Most Miserable Winter” List

This story comes from WCCO/CBS Minnesota. You can read the original article in its native context here.


snow Sure, Minnesota has shown up at the top of many lists praising the state for its bike paths, child wellness, charity and much more. But it all comes with a catch: the state’s challenging winter.

According to a recently compiled list on Thrillist, Minnesota winters are not only miserable, but the most miserable in the United States – beating out even Alaska. Really? Ouch.

“Parts of northern Minnesota see up to 170in of snow in a winter,” the list states. “One hundred seventy inches! That’s like two and a half times the height of Kent Hrbek!! It can get down to -60 degrees, a temperature at which frostbite can occur in fewer than five minutes. There are no chinook winds or moderating oceans to temper things outside of a small area by Lake Superior.”

Adding insult to injury, the list even makes a crack at Minnesota’s sports teams.

“Your sports teams never win championships. All of your good high school hockey players end up starring for NHL teams in other cities. Ice fishing can’t be that cool, really.”

Hey now, we have the Minnesota Lynx. They won the WNBA title in 2001, 2013 and 2015!

Michigan ranked No. 2 and coming in last with the least miserable winter on the list: Hawaii.

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25 Years Ago: The Halloween Blizzard of 1991

25 Years Ago: The Halloween Blizzard of 1991

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The legendary blizzard of 1991

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Minneapolis after the Halloween Blizzard of 1991

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The snow began to fall just after trick-or-treaters started collecting candy on the Thursday evening of October 31st, 1991

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Trick or Treat: The Best Neighborhoods for Halloween in the Twin Cities

Trick or Treat: The Best Neighborhoods for Halloween in the Twin Cities

This article originally appeared on the WCCO/CBS Minnesota website. It can be viewed in its original setting here

Here are six great neighborhoods for trick-or-treating in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. Rogers, Minnesota leads the list as the best place to raise kids. Five Minneapolis neighborhoods follow because they should provide the most candy with the least walking and greater safety according to Zillow.com. They are Fulton, Lynnhurst, Linden Hills, Tangletown and Cedar-Isles-Dean.

Should inclement weather dampen the fun of running door to door, be aware that many communities and local malls host indoor Halloween events. The Mall of America claims to host the world’s largest trick-or-treat event. Trick-or-treaters gather from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the central rotunda. Several other malls host similar events. Also, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) hosts more than a dozen family-friendly Halloween celebrations in Minneapolis parks. Some are exclusively for preschool-aged children while kids of all ages will enjoy many of the other events.

Halloween


Rogers, Minnesota
Rogers, MN 55374

“The Best Place to Raise Kids in Minnesota” in 2013 as deemed by Business Week magazine, Rogers, Minn. leads the list. The city also has more kids than any other in the metro area with 34.9 percent compared to a state average of 24.2 percent. Expect most of the 715 K-5 elementary school students to be swarming the neighborhood looking for treats.


Fulton Neighborhood of Minneapolis
Minneapolis, MN 55410

Children will be gleefully walking the sidewalks along Minnehaha Creek, southwest of Lake Harriet and next to the suburb of Edina this Halloween. Fulton was Zillow.com’s top pick for more candy, least walking and greater safety. A night spent in this neighborhood will ensure a pillow case full of treats.


Lynnhurst Neighborhood of Minneapolis
Minneapolis, MN 55419

Homeowners in the south Minneapolis neighborhoods around Minnehaha Creek between Penn Avenue and Lyndale Avenue will be preparing for the kids’ annual quest for candy. Put on some comfortable walking shoes and escort your kids from door to door to do Halloween right this year.


Linden Hills Neighborhood of Minneapolis
Minneapolis, MN 55410

The “small town city” of Linden Hills, located east of Lake Harriet, will be bustling with kids looking for treats. An added bonus to parents is that this neighborhood has some truly cute houses to admire along your trek. Although they will likely be covered in spooky decorations, these houses and their owners will be a welcoming host on Halloween.

Tangletown Neighborhood of Minneapolis
Minneapolis, MN 55419

Around five hundred children will be running from home to home along the winding streets between Lyndale Avenue and Interstate 35W in search of the best treats. Tangletown, as the name implies, is a bit of a twisted neighborhood. You and your kids will have a great time winding through the streets that make up the candy-providing homes of this Minneapolis haunt.


Cedar Isles Dean Neighborhood
Minneapolis, MN 55405

Parents often accompany their children around the curving streets of Kenwood and Lake of the Isles Parkway. Not wanting to be left out, they have been known to carry their own wine glasses sampling refreshments from friends and neighbors. Trick-or-treating in this neighborhood will be a fun night out for everyone in the family.

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Autumn on a Map: Fall Foliage Prediction

autumn_leaf_08nov17

Autumn on a Map

Finding the “Peak” Foliage in Minnesota and Around the United States

Autumn is here, and across the United States, leaves have begun to change! If you’re a photographer, a nature lover, or just enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of a beautiful autumn environment, then plan your next day trip around this fall foliage prediction map and visit your favorite scenic destination at the “peak” of the local foliage’s vibrancy!

Visit smokeymountains.com and click on the “Fall Foliage Prediction Map” link to see where leaves are changing in your area and across the country, and to find out more about why leaves change their color!

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Minnesota: The Best State to Grow Up In!

Minnesota State Flag

It’s official, and backed up by the Washington Post, that Minnesota is named the absolute best place to grow up in America!

A couple days ago the Washington Post posted a story on the best place to grow up in the entire country. Who came in 1st? Minnesota did, and it’s proven fact by The Casey Foundation, who works towards solutions for communities, families and children.

The ranking found that Minnesota has been on an upward trajectory for a few years over any other state for being the best state to raise a child. We were 6th overall in 2012, and are now 1st in 2016. See it for yourself!

The post also shows a map of the US and a concerning divide across the state from north-to-south regarding child well-being. There’s a distinct dividing line from best to worst, and Minnesota also ranks at the top in that as well.

So be proud of the great state of Minnesota and take pride in everything this land of 10,000 lakes has to offer.

Read More: Minnesota Named The Absolute Best Place to Grow Up in the US | http://minnesotasnewcountry.com/minnesota-named-the-absolute-best-place-to-grow-up-in-the-us/?trackback=tsmclip

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WCCO Viewers’ Choice For Best State Park In Minnesota

Gooseberry Falls

State Parks are plentiful in Minnesota. Whether you want to hike, bike or take in a bit of nature, there are more than 75 to choose from. But I wanted to know which one you like best. WCCO viewers voted, and, with a half a million visitors each year, it’s no surprise that your winner is one of the most-visited state parks: Gooseberry Falls.

Source: WCCO Viewers’ Choice For Best State Park In Minnesota

By 

NORTH SHORE, Minn. (WCCO) — State Parks are plentiful in Minnesota. Whether you want to hike, bike or take in a bit of nature, there are more than 75 to choose from. But WCCO’s Natalie Nyhus wanted to know which one you like best. WCCO viewers voted, and, with a half a million visitors each year, it’s no surprise that the winner is one of the most-visited state parks: Gooseberry Falls.

The rocky Lake Superior shoreline and five waterfalls highlight Gooseberry Falls’ landscape. But this state park offers so much more than just a pretty view. If you open up, there’s an experience for all five of your senses.

“Obviously you can see the falls. They are gorgeous to look at. They are very pretty, but one of the things I focus on when walking through the trails is my sense of hearing, listening in for the roar of the waterfalls going over the edge, the bird sounds out in the woods,” seasonal naturalist Abe Hartsell said.

He taught Natalie that a sniff of the air will let you know what’s in season.

“What we are smelling is that milkweed in the air. If you take a look you can see all the bees that are clustering on the milkweed. We are celebrating the diversity of the pollinators and how they are so important to this ecosystem,” Hartsell said. “If you stop and really look, you can find some caterpillars.”

And mother nature didn’t forget about your sense of taste. “We have raspberries, blueberries, thimbleberries, juneberries. All are edible,” park ranger Nick Hoffmann said.

Gooseberry Falls will also appeal to your sense of curiosity. It’s a unique combination of geology and human history.

“Where we are standing right now is by the remains of the old Civilian Conservation Corp Camp. This camp was here during the 1930s. They started in 1933 and stayed until 1941,” Hartsell said.

The CCC was a program set up by Franklin Delano Roosevelt during the Great Depression to get people back to work. There were 200 boys and men living and working at Gooseberry, building it to be what it is today, giving us the state park you voted best of Minnesota.

“If we did not have the CCC here, Gooseberry wouldn’t have been opened up,” Hartsell said. “We wouldn’t have the 80 different structures that make up this park and the cool history we have in this area as well.”

It’s up in these areas, where you can discover just how massive this 1,500 acre park is.

“A lot of people come to the falls. This particular spot where we are at with this overlook doesn’t get quite as many people. If you want to get away for some peaceful silence, this is the place to come,” Hoffmann said.

So after you explore the falls and capture your moment in front of the roaring waters, trek a little deeper and you’ll discover there’s even more.

“Opening your senses and walking through the woods is a wonderful part of being here,” Hartsell said.

Hoffmann shared a tip for visitors: If you come before 11 a.m. or after 4 p.m., parking will be much easier, and the park will be less busy.

And don’t forget that the park is open year-round, the winter offering cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and ice climbing.

Your other favorite parks are Jay Cooke State Park and Whitewater State Park.

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