The first flakes didn’t begin falling until late Tuesday, but local tire stores and auto shops have been busy helping drivers get ready for more than a month.

“People seem to hit it early this year, despite the weather,” said Nate Royea, general manager of Partners Tire and Services in Colchester. “Which is good because as everybody knows, there are a ton of cars that need to get snow tires on.”

Victor Alicea, a technician at Partners Tire and Services, said the difference between normal tires and snow tires is where the rubber meets the raod.

“The treads pattern,” he said. “The tread patterns are not as aggressive as the winter tires with the studs. This will help you not hydroplane in the winter, not hit guardrails, or not slide off to hit other cars.”

Colchester Police Officer Emily Fitzpatrick has seen her share of snow-related accidents, many partly caused by the lack of good traction. “You’re still driving the speed limit made in normal conditions, not in snowy or wet conditions.”

Officer Fitzpatrick recommends allowing more travel time and increasing the distanbce between your car and the cars ahead of you. “Having fuel, making sure your tank is full, and having a warm blanket in case you do break down.”

And one other thing.

“Have a good set of wipers,” Royear said, “and make sure the washer fluid is full.”