By Jeff Martin

Thereís a reason why the word ìsnowî is a four-letter word.

To anyone who hasnít grown up in Western New York, the very reality of snow takes on a dimension similar to that of suddenly waking up and finding yourself naked in a Russian forest. Itís that shocking.

With a recent forecast predicting a rain/snow mix, I felt it was important to devote this weekís column to that substance that worries me ó an Ohio native ó most.

First, let me say that Iím sure snow serves a purpose. A quick glance on the internet, however, reveals no useful purpose besides recreational activities, which Western New York seems to have capitalized on tenfold. In the Northtowns, thereís Kissing Bridge, and in the Southtowns thereís Holiday Valley and HoliMont. Between those two areas are headaches.

I say this with a light heart. Equipped with good tires, patience and a bottle of Tylenol, we can all enjoy the white stuff ó in spite of the fact that WNY averages between 80 and 150 inches per year. Where I come from, you measured snow with a kindergarten ruler, not an industrial tape measure.

With that, the following list is to help you this winter season, though I suspect that, unlike me, most people donít need any advice.

Like I said, tire traction is key. If you can afford it (which I cannot), consider a set of winter tires, a specialized rubber compound that maintains flexibility in the cold. Or you could just use a team of horses, but I suspect the monetary investment is quite a bit more.

Inflate your tires to the proper level and check them once a month. When the temperature drops 10 degrees, your tires drop one to two PSI. Oh, and make sure you carry spare change: The air pumps cost about a buck for three minutes ó a sick joke considering it takes five minutes to clear a path around your vehicle.

Someone said to practice driving on slick conditions in a parking lot before getting on the roadway with the rest of the luna ó uh, population. I guess I agree with this advice; it certainly helped when I was 17 and learning how to drive, which I suppose is the same thing when it snows 2 feet in an hour.

Stock your vehicle with emergency supplies. Hey, I didnít have to be told to do this last year during my first winter. It just made all the sense in the world to pack in my trunk a twin mattress, five blankets, a tent, a cord of wood, food for seven days, a pick ax, a firearm, a CB radio, goggles, shovels, and booze. In all seriousness, just make sure you have a shovel, clothes, some food, first-aid kit and patience.

Good luck and be safe. If you so desire, throw me an email and tell me of some unique winter adventures that youíve had.