And what, precisely, are you failing to anticipate? We have TV, radio, newspapers, and the internet to tell us what the weather is going to be like. As those of us who live in snow states know, the meteorologists never shut up about it when there's so much as a flake of snow. They tell you exactly how much has fallen, how much will fall, what that's doing to the roads, what it will do to the roads, when it will end, whether or not the snow will freeze into chunks of ice. . Anything you could need to know, you can find out before you even start the car.
Once you're on the road, it shouldn't take more than about 20 feet of driving to help you figure out exactly what road conditions are like. Combine that with the knowledge that it will be slicker at intersections, in traffic jams, and anywhere else cars have been idling, and you have a pretty good idea of what to expect.
And even then, if you're smart, you'll just assume when driving in the winter that everything is slick, even if you can tell it isn't. That'll keep you out of most potential trouble areas. You're of course still at risk of some other driver sliding into you, but your tire choice isn't going to influence that much.
As for the list, the Fortera you mentioned is good.
I was pleased with my Michelin Pilot Sport A/S's winter performance. I now have the Pilot Sport A/S plus, which is a new tire that I haven't run in the winter yet, but from all reports is better in the snow than the non-plus version. I am not cheaping out by not getting winter tires, and I certainly wouldn't recommend the $50-per all season if it's going to see serious winter use. I just do not find winter tires to be a necessary piece of driving equipment given the winter conditions we experience here. Just because I don't run out and get the absolute best for every possible condition doesn't mean I'm running racing slicks during the winter.