Well it seems that winter is officially upon us, with mounds of snow to move and icy lanes to travel as we continue our day to day business in northern Michigan. It was just one of those things that we’ve had to wait for this year. This is not the first snowstorm, however, but I feel that it is going to be the one that lasts for a while.

We got hit in November, on Veterans Day in fact, and that didn’t stick around forever. And from then on to now there have been a few storms that have laid out snow on the ground, only to have it melted away within a week. I’m not complaining.

But with the new snow not going anywhere soon, and the new situation for people in northern Michigan to deal with, there are a few good things to remember as we settle into the cold winter before the spring thaw. One of them, winter driving, I liken to cooking a pot roast.

I was always taught that the best way to cook a pot roast, one where the meat is falling apart, is tender, juicy and extremely favorable, is to cook it low and slow. This meanings, cook it at a lower temperature for long amount of time to get the best results.

We’ve all been to dinner somewhere and had at piece of pot roast that wasn’t cooked in this manner, wasn’t as tender as it could be, and would have traded the dog’s rubber steak because it was a better prepared cut of meat.

So what do I mean by “low and slow” when I liken that to driving? When there is snow, drive at a low speed. The slow part of the equation when it comes to driving is taking your time to get there. 

Just because our world is now covered in snow, doesn’t mean that we do not need to get to work on time, get the kids to practice, or pick up that last item from the grocery store to get dinner started. But having dangerous road conditions complicates it.

Driving slow on icy roadways, under the speed limit, is a great way to not get into a winter accident this year by slipping on snow or ice. According to the Michigan State Police’s winter driving tips, drivers cannot stop as fast on an icy or snow covered road as you can on drive pavement. This should be obvious to people, but what could not be as obvious is what is slippery.

“Often the most slippery surfaces do not appear hazardous, like on bridges, overpasses, and underpasses. At intersections the moisture emitting from the exhaust of cars waiting at a traffic light quickly freezes on the pavement and can be especially hazardous. And don’t be overly confident if your vehicle has anti-lock brakes; they are no substitute for using caution when traveling on slippery roads,” as stated by the MSP.

The second part of making a pot roast is the slow part, and when likened to driving, is taking your time. Making a pot roast doesn’t take 15 minutes. It takes hours, from the time you get the ingredients at the grocery store, to combining them at home and letting it cook in your oven or other cooking device, it’s not a fast process. 

It’s a very slow process with good results. A person wouldn’t get out of work at 5 p.m., run to the grocery store, get all their stuff to make a tender pot roast, and expect to be eating it by 6 p.m. (even if they have an Instant Pot, haha). The same with driving in the winter, it’s not a last minute thing, it’s something that should be planned ahead for and something that should take a little more time for good results, the good results being not getting into a crash.

You are going to be dealing with hazards on the road, and other drivers who are going at a slower pace for the conditions. You may even get behind plow trucks that are clearing the roadway. So it’s a good idea to plan ahead. Give yourself 15 or 20 minutes lead time before heading out. It’s never a bad thing to be early to an event if your trip ends up being uneventful.

You shouldn’t just plan ahead for the road conditions, however, you should plan ahead if you end up in the ditch. There are hundreds of miles of rural roadways in the county and all over the state where only one or two vehicles may pass during the day in bad weather. The Michigan State Police recommends packing an emergency kit for one’s vehicle.

“Include things like warm clothing, boots, stocking cap, gloves or mittens, flashlight with fresh batteries, flares, small shovel, sand or kitty litter, blankets, and fresh first-aid supplies. You may also want to include candy bars or other nutritious snacks, as well as a supply of small candles and matches to light them with,” according to the Michigan State Police. “A single lit candle in your vehicle can provide warmth that will help you survive for many hours, and with precautions is much safer than letting the engine run.”

So whether you are making a pot roast, or taking a trip to see grandma, remember that “slow and low” may make all the difference this winter.