Yesterday's trip down the mountain and back up was rather interesting, yet thankfully worked out better than expected. Given that our area ended up receiving 6-12 inches of snow, unseasonably low temperatures, and fierce winds, driving our all-wheel-drive car seemed like a good idea. However, that vehicle was already spoken for, so I took the LEAF.
Driving down the mountain, flakes were falling steadily but there wasn't yet more than a thin coating of snow on the road, so I didn't have to put on chains to keep the authorities happy. I observed that a chain control checkpoint had just been set up at about the 5500' level, at the lower end of Running Springs, so I apparently departed just in time. Even down to as low as 3500-4000', I encountered slush on the road and used regen to keep speed below 30 mph with hardly any use of the friction brakes.
As I had never previously driven more than a couple miles in the LEAF with chains, my biggest concern for the return trip up the mountain was that the range would be significantly reduced. So I added some charge at the Walmart in Redlands, bringing the "user" SOC up to 85%. After gentle driving, I reached the Highland Ave. on-ramp to CA-330 with about 77%, and continued climbing at 30-35 mph to conserve charge.
Upon reaching the 3800' level, I unexpectedly encountered a chain control checkpoint for up-bound traffic. The Caltrans guy asked if I had AWD, to which I had to respond in the negative. As the road was still devoid of snow, ice, and slush at this point, I asked for permission to install my chains higher up the mountain so as to avoid having to use them directly on pavement, but was nicely told that they had been ordered to require chains right there. After several minutes or so, I had them on the front wheels (partly by feel, in the dark), and drove off, ka-clunk ka-clunk ka-clunk ... at 18-20 mph.
Thankfully, at that point, my SOC meter reported that I still had 56%, so I figured I would be able to make it home. Before I reached the 5000' level, I encountered a completely white road, with gusts of wind blowing snow across it. This was much better. If I'm going to drive on chains, I'd rather have snow between the chains and the road. So I sped up to 25 mph.
Finally, I made it home, and still had 28% charge left! While it undoubtedly helped that I didn't use the climate control at all, and simply cracked open the windows whenever I needed to clear the windshield, the net result is that using the tire chains had only a minimal effect on range, probably due to me having to drive more slowly. This is very, very helpful to know. I will no longer have chain-requirement-induced range anxiety!
Here's a photo taken in our driveway this morning (keep in mind that my wife did some shoveling while I was gone):