Early Puget Sound snow sees rush to buy winter tires

Nov 7, 2022, 11:43 AM


Snow has arrived to the mountain passes, which means it's time to start thinking about snow tires. (Photo from WSDOT)

(Photo from WSDOT)

With temperatures expected to dip into the 30s this week, forecasters say western Washington low-lands could see their first “measurable” accumulation of snow, and that is prompting a flurry of activity to purchase winter tires.

Cole McIntosh, a manager at Les Schwab in Edmonds, only expects it to get busier, “especially [after] the first snowfall. Probably 8 to 10 hour wait times. I mean it’s 7 in the morning until 9 o’clock at night,” he says.

Winter weather increases need for traction tires in WA

Many drivers put off putting on their winter tires until the first snowfall or at least until Nov. 1, when studded tires become legal in Washington through March 31.

Studded tires remain legal but are not encouraged since these tires cause considerable road damage over time and cost taxpayers more money to maintain roadways. Studded tires also do not satisfy state chain requirements and if chains are required to cross mountain passes, chains must be used even on studded tires.

McIntosh says studs can help get a grip on compact snow and ice but are actually not the best option for the soggy slush the Puget Sound region often sees, and instead recommends newer generation winter tires, that don’t use studs.

“It’s actually a completely different compound, so it’s a softer rubber. They’re not made to be in heat over 50 degrees,” McIntosh said. “They are much better, all around, for the winter time.”

Another option? He says many of the new all seasons are rated for snow. McIntosh said, “they’re not quite on the same level as a snow tire but very close.”

Effective Nov. 1, pass conditions from the WSDOT can be found online, including current weather, temperatures, road conditions, and any traction advisories. If heavy snow is expected or occurring, consider delaying your trip across the Cascades until the storm has passed so highway crews can clear the highway of snow.

For more information about WSDOT’s proper winter driving tires and chains, visit their tire and chains website.

McIntosh stresses that no matter what type of tire you have, always slow down on ice, snow, and slush, citing speed as a factor in many crashes.

“Speed and snow and ice do not mix,” he said.

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Early Puget Sound snow sees rush to buy winter tires