As Canadians we can just skip the question of needing winter tires, but ask ourselves if studded tires are necessary?
Below are some of the determing factors:
Dozens and sometimes hundreds of studs provide additional grip and traction, which makes them the best performers when the roads present icy conditions.
Tires using studs today have studs across the face of the tread (not in rows) so the car can grip the road better side to side and front to back, which is an important factor when performing on ice and black ice.
In Nova Scotia there are some areas that propose the following challenges and conditions:
There can be shadows during certain parts of the day that present icier conditions while sometimes hiding black ice due to the sun not reaching the road until later in the afternoon.
Coastal regions and close to rivers
Fog and condensed fog turning into water can freeze on the road.
Urban areas experiencing milder conditions become what's called wet icy because the snow will melt under the exhaust fumes and then freeze overnight.
Drivers dealing with any type of icy conditions are going to benefit greatly through the use of studded tires because of the benefit of improved stopping distances.
Of all the different kinds of snow the most dangerous is the hard-packed or dense snow that have been packed down after being driven over. This type of snow clogs channels along the tread face and soon performs like ice driving on ice. Today's studded tires have the metal pins digging into surfaces and have aggressively-designed tread that will shed snow allowing it to keep strong, soft and flexible road contact.
If you reside in an area that experiences a short winter with unpredictable conditions similar to spring or fall a non-studded tires is a good choice because they can be put on your vehicle sooner and stay on longer than their studded counterparts.