Dealing With Special Situations

Deep, Loosely Packed Snow

In loosely packed snow, snowmobiles sink deeper and don’t produce as much traction. Deep snow also may hide obstacles or other hazards. If you’re on deep, loose snow, make a wide turn and move to harder-packed snow.

Hard-Packed Snow Drifts

After the wind blows snow into drifts and the snow hardens, it may conceal bumps and dips. Back injuries can result from riding over these drifts at high speeds. Reduce your speed and be alert.

Whiteout Conditions

When the sky is overcast and the ground is covered with snow, the landscape may appear entirely white, with no visible horizon.

  • Distances are difficult to judge, and variations in the terrain are not easy to recognize.
  • Do not ride in a whiteout if you can avoid it, but if you must:
    • Be extremely cautious, and maintain a low speed.
    • Stay in familiar areas only, and watch for indications of hazards such as drop-offs beneath the snow.


Ice presents many of the same handling problems as riding on pavement. Also, spins are common and fast stops are impossible.

  • Maintain a slow, steady speed. Don’t speed up or apply the brakes abruptly.
  • To stop safely, release the throttle and coast to a stop.

Frozen Rivers and Lakes

Do not ride on frozen rivers and lakes if you can avoid it, but if you must:

  • Goup as high as possible and use binoculars to look for dark spots on the ice. This indicates slush, water, or deteriorating ice. Do not attempt to cross.
  • Watch for rivulets flowing on the ice or streams flowing under it. Typically, ice is thinner and weaker in these areas.