1) Snow tires are nowhere to be found (I lucked out on kijiji but that's another blog)
2) Many stores are also sold out of snow blowers.
I had decided in May already that I was buying a snow blower for this winter. Actually, my neighbours partially decided for me and I gladly obliged - I could freely use their lawnmower (and they even cut my grass for me) if they could use my snow blower. Sounded like a good deal.
To add to this, last winter saw the most snow the region had seen in many years. I came home from weeks of travel to four feet of snow in my driveway and a two-hour dig just to get through the frozen mound of snow, salt & sand deposited in the end of my driveway by the snowplow. I was going to spare myself the humiliation this winter of parking on the snowbank while I dug myself into the driveway.
While I was initially surprised by the inavailability, many places have more snow throwers coming in, and I am proud to say that I now also have one on order. My neighbours and I will welcome it's arrival like a newborn baby.
What did I know about buying a snow blower? Very little! In fact, I quickly learned that I was actually buying a snow "thrower" - blowers are mounted on tractors.
Check out buying guides at Home Depot and Lowes. Then talk to the salespeople to learn more about the machine that will meet your needs. Here are some basics to get you started.
Single stage or Dual Stage? These are your primary options. The Dual Stage is a more 'heavy duty' machine, but how do you know if you need that much snow throwing force?
How much and what kind of snow? Single stage throwers are better suited to handle less than 8" of snowfall. Wetter and heavier snow may require a dual stage machine.
Gravel driveway? Dual stage throwers have drive wheels that can be adjusted to keep the auger up off the ground. (This will be cheaper than replacing the neighbour's BMW window.) Large driveways (over 40 feet) will also want dual stage to make the job faster.
There are a wealth of options - heated hand grips, cabs (those tents over your head), manual or joystick controlled chutes, power assisted steering, and electric start - to name a few. Get behind the machines and manoeuvre them about to see what you are comfortable with.
Most come with 1-4 year warranty. Keep warranty in mind if your machine will be tackling tough conditions and log a a lot of hours of use.