How Long After Snow Is It Safe To Drive (And Why)?

Exact Answer: Until it melts to a safe level

Driving in snow can be a tricky job to do, but can still be done nonetheless. This depends on the thickness of snow that has accumulated on the ground. Some vehicles can handle a greater thickness of snow, while other vehicles can only be driven if there is a lower thickness of snow.



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Driving in snow can be dangerous and can leave you stranded in places. So it is important to always follow the safety protocols while driving out in the snow.

States such as Michigan, Alaska, Pennsylvania, Wyoming, and Missouri are notoriously known for being among the most dangerous states in the U.S. for winter driving and traveling in the snow.

How Long After Snow Is It Safe To Drive

How Long After Snow Is It Safe To Drive?

Objective Answer
Rate of melting of snow2-4 inches of snow melts in a day at 50 degrees Fahrenheit
What vehicle can handle 1-4 inches of snow?Smaller vehicles that may be low raised
What vehicle can handle 5-7 inches of snow?Pickup trucks, SUVs, and other heavy-duty vehicles

You don’t necessarily have to wait to drive in the snow unless you have a vehicle that is not suited or incapable of driving in the snow. In addition, you may choose to wait it out if the thickness of snow that has fallen is too much.

Apart from this, you can drive safely in the snow, given that you follow all the precautionary steps. If the ambient temperature is at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit, then two to four inches of snow usually melt within a day. If the temperature is higher than this during the day, then the rate of melting increases.

Thus, if there is quite a bit of snow that has fallen, and is preventing you from traveling, then you may wait for at least a day, so you can safely step out and drive your vehicle. Different types of vehicles have different capabilities when it comes to driving in the snow.

Smaller and lower vehicles such as everyday cars, with tires that are not made for winter travel, are usually unsafe to drive while it snows heavily. Whereas, higher and more heavy-duty vehicles such as pickup trucks and SUVs, that have specifically designed tires that are apt for traveling in the snow, are safer to drive in the snow.

A tip to keep in mind while traveling in the snow is to drive smoothly because any sudden movements can derail the tires that are already struggling to have a grip on the road.

It is important to look ahead of your own vehicle, and not follow another vehicle closely. Also, despite being an expensive option, you are advised to attach winter tires to your vehicle, as they offer an immense amount of grip on slippery roads.

Another thing to keep in mind is to drive slowly and carefully. Driving too fast can cause the car to slip.

Why Does It Take That Long To Drive After Snow?

Driving in snow is incredibly dangerous for numerous reasons. Snow causes your vehicle to lose traction. The roads become very slippery and slick. This makes you lose control over your vehicle, and this may lead to an accident or crash.

Snow can cause decreased visibility. You may even face difficulties while trying to navigate your way while traveling. This may also raise your risk of getting into a car crash.

Winter can harm the mechanics and quality of your vehicle. The fluids that are under the vehicle’s hood can be impacted, and this can make your tires less durable. The vehicle’s fluids may freeze or blow out.

If the roads are salted to melt the ice and snow and offer increased traction, then the salt enters the vehicle and causes the metal to rust. The paint may chip off and get eroded.

These are just a few reasons as to why driving on snow is absolutely dangerous, and why you must wait for a few inches of the snow to melt.

This is why it is best to install winter tires that give you a good grip on slippery roads and withstand the harsh winter weather for a longer time than normal all-season tires. Also, you can install new wiper blades for your vehicle. This helps maintain a clean windshield which provides better visibility.

Regularly wash your vehicle to clear off the salt and rust that has developed on the car. It is also very important to schedule and go through with auto-service, especially in winter. This ensures that your vehicle is up to the mark, and can resist the temperature drop, and the snow that it will have to travel through.


Therefore, we can understand that anyone can drive through the snow at any given time. This depends on the type of vehicle they are driving, and the thickness of snow that they are driving through. Bigger vehicles with tires that are made for winter driving are usually safe with snow that ranges from 5-7 inches. Smaller vehicles with tires that are less suited for winter driving can only travel in 1-3 inches of snow, granted that they travel with safety precautions in place.

If you do have the time to wait it out, you can wait for a day, as snow takes a day to melt 2-4 inches at 50 degrees Fahrenheit. But if the snow is already thin, then you may travel slowly and carefully.


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