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Driving from PEI to Edmonton, Alberta (end of Jan. beginning of Feb. 2015)

Driving from PEI to Edmonton, Alberta (end of Jan. beginning of Feb. 2015)

Old Jan 24th, 2015, 01:21 PM
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Driving from PEI to Edmonton, Alberta (end of Jan. beginning of Feb. 2015)

Looking for advice on driving conditions for this time of year. I'm driving a 2000 VW Jetta diesel in good condition. It's my 1st time driving from PEI to Edmonton so please whoever knows the road conditions could you help me with your advice. Thanks
elking is offline  
Old Jan 25th, 2015, 07:17 AM
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You're going to drive across roughly three time zones, through terrain that ranges from table-top flat to relentless hills and valleys, and weather conditions that can vary from above-freezing sunshine to white-out blizzards over night. That's why weather is Canada's favorite subject for casual chatter. You've waited awfully late to prepare for an arduous trip but at least you should find out what emergency supplies to keep in the car (from candles to cat litter for traction on ice.) Good luck, since you are facing a challenge.
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Old Jan 26th, 2015, 04:39 AM
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You have quite a challenge ahead of you. You haven't said how long you have for the journey or why you are going, but I'm assuming it is not for the fun of it. If you are relocating and need to take possessions and vehicle with you I suggest you fly out and go back for your stuff later. But each to their own.

You will need winter tires which are designed to perform at cold temperatures. All season radials are not sufficient as they don't give you the traction you need on snow and ice. By all means create a good emergency kit, keep a close eye on weather reports, and be prepared to wait out storms along the way.
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Old Jan 26th, 2015, 01:08 PM
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I agree that flying is a much better option. That's a long drive with a lot of fairly remote areas and more than a small chance of hitting very bad weather.

I've done Ontario to Edmonton, and even in late April I barely avoided road closures on the TCH in northern Ontario and Manitoba due to snow.

You need to have snow tires, a car you can trust, a complete emergency kit, have a solid plan for where you are staying plus lots of backups, plus have someone you will e-mail or call each night to let them know that everything is OK.

Not to scare you, but I would NOT do the Northern Ontario section in the winter. Even in late April, it was mostly truck traffic with few or no places to stay, get gas or stop between the major towns (not many of those at all). If you break down or have issues, cell service is patchy, roads tight & twisty in parts and you could wait a long while in bitterly cold conditions for help. The gas stations are made for truck traffic, so often not paved - i.e. you need to be prepared for driving on snow/muck and possibly in quite a bit of snow to get to the pumps.

Also, you have long stretches between places you can stop for the night - I think the only real option is doing Sault San Marie to Thunder Bay in one day and that's about 8+ hours of driving. I would not be driving in the dark (that stretch is one lane each way, no dividers, major hills and significant drop offs down to the lake), which makes it nearly impossible at this time of year. I also suspect plowing is not going to happen at night and your Jetta is not going to do well if the roads aren't clear. I would assume that if anything happens at night, you are waiting until morning for help.

The praries are easier driving, but again it's a lot of long stretches between places to stay and places to get gas. And stretches of road that are quite prone to blowing/drifting snow. Unlike in PEI, snow out west tends to be very dry, so it is easily picked up by the wind and deposited in high drifts which can be a problem for small cars.

Also, I don't know the situation in PEI, but out here diesel is a lot more expensive than regular gas - it's stayed above $1 per litre, while regular gas is below 70 cents per litre.
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Old Jan 27th, 2015, 08:43 AM
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I think it is doable. The one thing I have learned is to check weather forecasts and road conditions very carefully and very frequently. As said above blowing snow either near water (lake effect) or across flat land can come up suddenly and be a real pain. At times if you wait too long it can be difficult to see even where to pull off the highway.

And wear sunglasses. The late day sun on bright white snow can be glaring.
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Old Jan 27th, 2015, 11:13 AM
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Thanks so much everyone for your advice, I really appreciate it. Somebody advised me to drive on the Trans Canada Hwy, however it does sound dangerous. What if I drove through the United States? The reason I'd like to drive is I have some tools for my autobody repair job out there and am unable to fly with them.
Thanks again!
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Old Jan 27th, 2015, 03:37 PM
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I don't know if you have tried Google directions. It shows two routes both taking 51 hours. The Canadian route is only Canadian to Sault Ste Marie where it heads south of Lake Superior. That is the route I would take but others may differ. I also asked a trucker friend of mine and he agreed.

The highway (17) between Ottawa and SSM has been improved pretty dramatically over the past 25 years. But I still would stay off of it if there is any forecast of snow. But many people plow right through.
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