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Got Snow, In Deep Freeze? Goodyear Says 'Brrrring it On!'

AKRON, Ohio, Oct. 15, 2003 -- Winter seers calling for a frigid winter and piles of snow? Better get out the long johns and Goodyear Ultra Grips.

Weather prognosticators, including the formidable Farmer's Almanac, predict another cold winter on the way. New England residents say junco birds are showing up early at birdfeeders, a symbol of a "bad winter."

In Alaska, tall fireweed, abundant ravens and overactive chickadees mean a snowy winter.

Even the woolly bear caterpillar recently weighed in with a dark, thick coat -- a forecast for more than normal snowfall and below normal temperatures, according to Cleveland meteorologist Dick Goddard.

Goodyear Gemini automotive service centers aren't taking any chances. Mark Kaczmarek, technical resource manager for Goodyear, said memories of last winter should be enough motivation to get ready.

Actually, Kaczmarek said motorists should be well-prepared for ice, snow and freezing temperatures if they maintain their vehicles year-round. "The vehicle, when kept in good repair, is ready for all driving conditions."

"When vehicle owners follow the manufacturer's recommended service intervals, their only winter concern should be whether they need ice or winter tires and to prepare a cold-weather survival kit, which contains nutrition bars, blankets, scarves, mittens, flares, jumper cables, ice scrapers, water and kitty litter -- to provide traction when stuck. The conscientious owner needs do no more than continue normal auto service," he said.

"Whether you choose Goodyear Gemini or another service center, you need to look for someone you can trust. That way, you and the auto technician can develop a partnership in following the vehicle manufacturer's mileage maintenance schedule."

If not, a winter checkup of antifreeze, oil, brakes, lights, belts, hose, battery, heater and tires becomes necessary. It's also costly to fix these items at one time rather than spreading the expense year-round, he added.

A tire inspection is doubly important to retain traction in adverse conditions. Goodyear recently introduced a new Eagle Ultra Grip GW3 for performance cars. The company has an Ultra Grip winter tire to fit most any vehicle, Kaczmarek said.

Those winter tires may pay off if the Farmer's Almanac forecast hits the mark. In fact, the almanac claims to get it right about 80 percent of the time. Last year, it warned folks from Maine to Colorado about colder-than-normal temperatures and snow.

Beginning in February, according to the almanac, storms will hit much of the eastern half of the country with no reprieve until early spring. Parts of New England will get snow into late April.

Kaczmarek recommends that motorists not delay on their winter tire purchases. Most winter tire buyers act in October or November. Even without snow, Goodyear winter tires are engineered to perform well in freezing temperatures.

The West also faces a cold, snowy winter, the almanac says. The Southeast is expected to have mild weather.

For the record, the National Weather Service doesn't give a snowball chance to forecasts so far in advance, but the almanac was correct last season. And Punxsutawney Phil hasn't weighed in yet on this winter.

Phil will emerge from his Pennsylvania burrow on Feb. 2, 2004. And motorists will continue to watch their backyards for birds and furry animals -- and for a sign of weather to come.