When to shovel depends a bit on the situation, and there's a lot of guess work involved. Basically, you don't need to shovel if you and your car are capable of busting through whatever is on the ground. Usually an inch or two is no problem. If the weather is supposed to warm up, you can just leave the snow and let Mother Nature take care of it. A south facing driveway also helps. The difficulty comes when you aren't due for a warm spell. Driving over snow will pack it down and encourage it to turn into ice. Then it's extra hard to remove, and you will curse your laziness when you can't get traction on the ice.
The storms I hate are the ones which start out as snow and finish up as freezing rain. If the pavement is cold, the rain will freeze onto every surface and your driveway will turn into a skating rink. Sometimes in these kinds of storms it's better to just leave the snow alone until after the storm ends. The snow protects the driveway from the frozen rain, and you can just push the ice away when you shovel the snow. Of course if it's a really heavy rain, the water soaks down through the snow layer and you end up with a four inch thick glacier on your driveway. Then you curse because chipping four inches of frozen slush is a lot harder than putting salt on a half inch of glazed ice.
I find a straight edged garden spade to be a very handy tool in winter. I use it to dig my way out of banks of refrozen snow when my car gets plowed in. A garden spade is small enough to ride around in the trunk of my car, and it's a stronger chipping tool than a snow shovel. Don't waste your money on those ridiculous plastic folding shovels for sale in drug stores. They aren't good for much other than digging sand castles on the beach.
If it had not been mentioned yet, shovel wet snow immediately. Even if it has stopped or if it's only at 2". It will freeze and make it extra hard to shovel, plus if you let it pile up too high without doing in-between it gets so heavy!! That is the worst! I'm in Alberta and I have about 6-8" right now in my yard.
Someone mentioned, become one with the snow lol, so true!
We had snow in the Sierras, enough to be infamous if you've heard of the Donner Party, enough to host the 1960 winter Olympics and support lots of world class ski resorts, but never the wintry mix or freezing rain I've found here.
Freezing rain is nasty stuff, forget black ice because this is invisible and getting it off the car takes a bit of work. First off, I've got manual doorlocks and your lock might get frozen shut which requires you warm the key to get it in the lock and then to get it to turn. I've also had the door freeze shut, sometimes trying another door to get in works the best, otherwise you almost need to stick a screwdriver in between the door and the body and pry. Using the butt end of a scraper around the door can crack the ice enough so you can get the door open. Then it'll be 10 minutes of defroster on HIGH before the sheets of ice start coming off the windshield. And after that you get to drive home on it, oh joy!
As a general rule we don't shovel, we're close to LauraKY and it's the same, but when it's warm during the day and it gets slushy and then freezes there's no way I can get my car to drive up that. It spins in the slush and then on the ice. With a gravel driveway once or twice we've hooked up the box blade and turned up the gravel + snow which solved the problem.
You can get wool gloves wet and not freeze your fingers too bad. Don't try that with cotton, remember "cotton kills."
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