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With winter weather possibly coming this week, consider snow tires

MORGANTOWN — Morgantown residents could wake up to a little snow mixed in with their rain today and it’s even more likely in higher elevations such as Preston and Tucker counties.

That’s according to meteorologist Bill Modzelewski of the U.S. National Weather Service in Pittsburgh. Any noticeable accumulation will be less than an inch.

According to the NWS, Morgantown’s low will be 39 on Monday night and 30 on Tuesday night. Terra Alta will have a Monday night low of 35 with a drop to 27 on Tuesday night. 

On the whole, the NWS expects winter 2021 will be a bit warmer with a bit more precipitation than average, Modzelewski said. That doesn’t mean there won’t be cold days or storm fronts but those are the current predictions.

Snowfall means snowy roads and inevitably, crashes. According to the West Virginia Department of Transportation, 22% of all vehicle crashes and 16% of all fatalities are linked to severe weather such as rain and snow.

The DOT also recommends making sure tires have enough tread and that drivers consider snow tires.

Snow tires are made of a softer and more pliable compound than regular tires, said James Schifano, store manager of Glotfelty Tire Center on Grafton Road.

“Another main difference would be siping,” Schifano said. “That’s the little lines seen in a tire. Each one of those lines is another biting edge so the snow tires will have a whole lot more of that.”

The cost of snow tires varies depending on brand, size and quality, Schifano said. 

Richard Dinsmore, owner of Dinsmore Tire & Auto on Mileground Road, said there is a tire shortage and the cost of tires has increased $30, $40, or even $50 per tire in some cases. 

“We went from having $6,000 a container up to $30,000 a container to get your tires,” Dinsmore said.” “So they’re gonna divide that up and that’s spiking it.”

While some more expensive tires have more advanced technology leading to better traction, more expensive doesn’t always mean better, Dinsmore said. The brand name also plays a big role — just like with name brand and generic food.

“You can get a Michelin X Ice and Snow for $249 a tire or you can do a General Altimax Arctic for $169 a tire,” Dinsmore said. “And I can’t tell you that that Michelin is gonna outperform that General. ‘Cause General’s made by Continental which is actually a tier one tire.”

Shifano and Dinsmore both said they typically see a rush of people buying snow tires after the first snow but that now is the best time to buy. 

“That way you can still have a choice of what you want,” Dinsmore said.

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