How I survived a blizzard in a Corvette Z06 on summer season tires

Sure, that was me, two weeks in the past within the snowbound mess on I-75 in Kentucky.

Let me clarify.

Some of the-read items on Autoblog final 12 months concerned taking a Corvette locations it most likely should not have been after a blizzard within the shadow of Mt. St. Helens. As we posited within the headline for the Chevrolet Corvette Convertible Highway Check Evaluate, “Mountain highway after a blizzard. What might go fallacious?” I didn’t have that piece in thoughts once I lately ended up caught on the freeway. But when I had had, my overview could be titled, “2001 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Highway Check Evaluate | Frozen freeway throughout a snowstorm. Every thing went fallacious (till it went proper).”

It began simply earlier than New Yr’s, once I determined to make a fast journey to Florida to go to a buddy from my house close to Cincinnati. The climate the day I left wasn’t merely unseasonable, it was an absurd 71 levels. Wanting on the 10-day report, forecasters did not predict something even approaching the unsavory for at the very least a couple of days after I might be again. So as an alternative of grabbing the keys to the Buick or the Land Cruiser, I grabbed the keys to the Corvette.

This was going to be a breeze.

And it was, till I received a flat tire on New Yr’s Day, which led to a sequence of unlucky delays and poor selections. Nobody will likely be shocked to seek out out that tire retailers do not hold a 290/35-section Michelin Pilot Sport 4S in inventory on the finish of December. So as an alternative of departing on Sunday, January 2 and being again house the next day, when temps had stabilized at a extra affordable 33 levels with no precipitation, I did not go away till Tuesday night.

I drove in a single day to simply previous Atlanta and received a lodge room. Nonetheless fatigued that night, I made a decision to remain in a single day and go away after a great evening’s sleep. This was the primary of a sequence of missed alternatives to keep away from what would occur the next day on the return journey from Florida.

On Thursday, the whole lot was positive till after Knoxville, Tennessee, about 200 miles from house. Then the snow started, gentle, however sticking. By the point I crossed the Kentucky border, the panorama was white. Visitors remained fluid, shifting about 45 to 50 mph. The roads had been a contact slushy, however nothing problematic.

Entering into Kentucky hill nation alongside the Daniel Boone Nationwide Forest previous Corbin, patches of ice appeared. I noticed my first automotive within the median. On the next curve, the again of the Corvette stepped out twice, two mild slides that the electro-nannies shortly corrected. Then I noticed the primary overturned truck. 

I didn’t pull over. I saved going with the even slower circulation of site visitors. So long as site visitors moved, I appreciated my probabilities.

I made it one other 30 miles. Then, on an incline about two miles previous the Mr. Vernon exit, site visitors stopped. My probabilities cratered to zero.

At 2: 24 p.m. on Thursday, I texted a buddy to say I might be house late. Individuals who might flip their vehicles round and drive on the suitable shoulder in opposition to site visitors again to the Mt. Vernon exit had been doing so. With my automotive on brand-new summer season tires, I did not need to danger going downhill and sliding into any of the tons of of vehicles between the place I used to be and the exit ramp.

Southbound 75 was clear. I received out to see if there was a break within the low concrete wall separating northbound from southbound site visitors that I’d squeeze by means of. There was none.

The trucker subsequent to me honked as I walked again to my automotive. Contemplating the scenario, I used to be ready for any query. His identify was Mike, and he was irrationally superior. As a substitute of asking me a query, he gave me an replace on the scenario: An enormous pileup forward, we had been going to be there for at the very least two hours. That estimate sounded optimistic. We chatted about trucking for a bit. Then he gave me two bottles of water and a few granola bars, and I returned to my automotive.

At the least I used to be sporting heat garments, and I had sufficient warm-weather clothes in my duffel to layer up and forestall freezing to dying. At 2: 52 I used to be down to simply underneath half a tank of fuel, so I started rationing, operating the automotive 10 minutes each hour.

An hour later, Mike informed me the estimate for clearing the highway forward was one other two hours.

An hour glided by. Two plows had handed, clearing the left shoulder. Automobiles and vehicles that might observe them did so, till the plows received caught a couple of quarter of a mile forward of the place I used to be. Now there have been 4 lanes of stopped site visitors as an alternative of three.

About 40 minutes later, Mike came visiting and informed me it seemed like we may be shifting quickly. The issue now was that it had been snowing an inch an hour and the mercury was dropping, so the snow underneath my tires had turned to ice. Mike mentioned he had a snow shovel, and kindly let me borrow it to clear a path from the place my automotive sat to the cleared lane. I chopped up the ice and snow and carried it out of the way in which till I used to be in a position to slither the Corvette into an open house within the cleared lane.

The final gentle of a grey sky had light by the point site visitors received shifting once more, doing possibly 15 mph. The following exit with secure harbor was Berea, about 14 miles forward. I used to be again to my mantra, having moved to the suitable lane: If site visitors retains shifting, I ought to get there.

However the plows hadn’t performed a lot past the place they received caught earlier than, so the roads had been nonetheless beset by ice that had collected throughout the wait. I made it down the primary hill after the place I might been parked, however when site visitors stopped once more whereas going up the next incline, the rear tires would not push the automotive one other inch ahead. I reversed onto the shoulder, parked 127 miles from house, sandwiched between the suitable lane of site visitors passing barely 3 toes from my driver’s door, and the snowdrift beside the passenger door. The probabilities of getting brained had been excessive. Maybe 70 toes behind me, an 18-wheeler was caught within the center lane. Figuring the angles, I spotted my automotive was within the excellent place to be clobbered by one other car despatched spinning uncontrolled after making an attempt to keep away from that truck. The probabilities of getting brained went means up.

There wasn’t a lot I might do. The Corvette might solely go backward, down the hill. Doing so meant risking sliding off the shoulder, or into site visitors. No, thanks.

I used to be right down to three-eighths of a tank. I checked the climate. Extra freezing temps the following day, however 47 levels on Saturday. I deliberate for the worst, being caught within the automotive till Saturday when the snow would begin to soften. I grabbed my duffel and layered up. I nonetheless had the water and granola bars Mike had given me. Assuming I made it by means of the evening, I might stroll the 4 miles again to Mt. Vernon to seize some fuel cans and meals to outlive till Saturday.

I received within the passenger’s seat, placed on the seatbelt, and closed my eyes.

Two hours glided by. The occasional 18-wheeler received caught climbing the grade, however wiggled out and onward.

At 9: 22 p.m., stupendously vivid lights shone by means of my windshield. I opened my eyes and made out the again of a truck tractor. I assumed a bobtail had received caught and the driving force had turned on his exterior lights. However no, it was a wrecker parked in the suitable lane about 30 toes forward of me, come to maneuver the massive rig out of the center lane and onto the shoulder. Sooner or later earlier than I wakened, the wrecker driver had run his tow line subsequent to my automotive. After I realized that, I received out; I did not need to be in the course of the motion if issues went fallacious.

I do not assume the wrecker driver, whose identify was Aaron, with ThroughTruck towing, had seen me in my automotive. The left aspect of the Corvette was coated with falling snow and frozen slush thrown up by passing vehicles and vehicles. When Aaron noticed me get out, he shouted, “Get in my truck and get heat.” Invitation accepted.

After Aaron completed getting the rig onto the shoulder, he mentioned he’d give me a trip to Berea with the beforehand caught truck driver. I went again to my automotive to seize a small bag, then Aaron confirmed as much as say his brother Caleb wasn’t distant with a flatbed, and if I needed, Caleb might get me and my automotive to Berea or wherever I might discover a lodge.

Sure. I needed.

I might write one other 1,500 phrases about how blissful I used to be to not be confronted with 36 hours of residing in my automotive doing a little horrible, low-budget reboot of Into the Wild. To maintain this temporary, I’ll describe myself merely as: Over-fing-joyed.

Aaron would not let me look ahead to his brother on my own — he stood with me within the chilly on the aspect of the highway till Caleb confirmed. Then Aaron mentioned goodbye, taking his cost with him and carrying on to the following wreck not a lot additional up the highway.

Caleb informed me to get in his truck and get heat whereas he loaded up my automotive, persevering with the familial onslaught of embarrassingly hospitable hospitality. Within the heat of the cab, I seemed for a lodge. After all, the whole lot from Kentucky to Canada was booked, and police had closed the freeway not far after Berea. However there was a 24-hour truck cease in Berea, which meant 24-hour meals and restrooms, and I might be proud of it.

As Caleb and I talked basic vehicles, just like the Dodge Charger he is restoring, I noticed carnage at common intervals within the 14 miles to Berea. Loads of folks had been far much less lucky than I might been, which, frankly, wasn’t arduous, seeing as I had been insanely lucky.

Caleb dropped me and the Corvette off, equally gently, beside the 76 Gas Middle. After I talked about shopping for fuel on the BP station a few blocks away, Caleb had one other one in every of his drivers, Miguel, take me there and let me borrow the two-gallon can within the tow truck. I went contained in the BP to purchase a second fuel can, since I wanted sufficient to maintain the automotive operating intermittently for one more 12 hours once I might get a lodge room. The attendant requested me what I needed the fuel can for. I defined, and he informed me do not hassle, then walked me exterior to a spot behind the station’s dumpster the place he saved empty DEF cans for folks like me. “These fuel cans are costly,” he mentioned. “This could do.” I tipped him half the value of the fuel can I used to be going to purchase.

“You do not want to do this,” he mentioned. “Oh sure I do.”

Arrange with a parking spot, fuel, a fuel can, sustenance and security, I lastly requested Caleb how a lot the tow was going to value me. When he paused half a second, I assumed, “Right here we go …” It wasn’t like I used to be going to complain, although; a maxed-out bank card beats 36 hours at 24 levels and a excessive diploma of dying.

“Seventy-five {dollars},” Caleb mentioned.

I couldn’t consider my ears.

I requested, “Is that the Corvette value?” as if he had been making an attempt to gouge me. Then I laughed and handed over my card, questioning what the adjectival phrase above “insanely lucky” is.

I attempted to tip Caleb and Miguel, too, however neither one would take the cash nor let me purchase them meals on the restaurant. I say as soon as extra, embarrassingly hospitable hospitality.

I slept in my automotive that evening, the Econolodge throughout the road the following evening, and received house two days later after Saturday’s 47 levels melted sufficient of the snow to choose my means again.

I don’t advocate making an attempt any of this at house. Nor wherever else.

But winter and its harsh, fast-moving climate aren’t over, so please do not forget that this will occur to you and put together accordingly. Positive, you’d probably be in a significantly better automotive for the travail, however as soon as everyone seems to be caught, the sector will get fairly even. And do not assume that is nearly getting caught within the fallacious automotive with the fallacious tires removed from house. In the course of the storms over the vacation weekend, I noticed correct winter vehicles on the shoulders, miles from the closest exit, with flat winter tires. They had been going to be there for some time.

As we element in our Winter Emergency Equipment information, it is important throughout the winter to depart a small survival equipment within the trunk with at the very least a blanket or sleeping bag, pillow, water, gloves, heat socks, rations that will not spoil (granola bars, canned tuna with pull tabs, and many others.). Bonus factors for including a pair days’ value of medicines for normal drivers or passengers, a small fuel can, and an influence provide for cell gadgets.

Keep together with your automotive together with your seat belts on until the scenario calls for you get out; inside your automotive will nearly all the time be warmest and most secure. I used to be ready to stroll the next morning, however I had a straight shot down the freeway and was dressed for it. In case you do must take a hike, keep by fundamental roads and stroll in opposition to site visitors – you will see what’s coming.

I additionally advocate giving tow and wrecker drivers loads of room. It is harmful for them at the very best of instances.

Lastly, I like to recommend leaving your Corvettes and your summer season tires at house. Till, , summer season.

Patrick Moore

Patrick is our chief editor and he's very passionate about cars. He has a bachelor's degree in marketing and he studies journalism. His favorite brand is BMW and he drives an X5 series. When he's not writing for Vehiclenews.net, he enjoys spending time with his family and 9 years old son.

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