What's the Difference Between Snow Chains and Snow Tires?

In many snowy locations all over the road, snow tires or snow chains are a necessity for winter travel. In some places, they are even required by law. What's the real difference in performance between chains or tires?

Snow chains are metal chains that are put on tires to increase traction on snow packed roads. Chains limit the fuel efficiency of a vehicle, however. They also work to reduce speeds closer to 30 miles per hour, and are often required for cars that don't have four-wheel drive.

Snow tires contain more natural rubber to prevent them from hardening in the cold. They also have treads that are better designed for from maintaining control on snow-packed roads.

More Weather Glossary

  • Hoar Frost

    After a cold, clear winter night without much wind, the ground and nearby tree branches may be covered by tiny, white ice crystals.

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This Day In Weather History

Scranton, PA (1984)
Hail 3/8 of an inch in diameter covered the ground.

Duluth, MN (1992)
49 degrees -- the lowest maximum temperature ever recorded in July.

Mt. Vernon, SD (1993)
Flooding caused a 100 car back up on Interstate 90.