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Old 11-28-2012, 07:03 PM
 
2 posts, read 2,737 times
Reputation: 15

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Hi all!
I am considering driving home to California for the holidays with my boyfriend and my dog. No airlines would allow my puppy, and dog boarders/sitters are REALLY expensive; especially because we want to be leaving for about 3 weeks.

What I'm concerned about is the weather. I know the roads well, my boyfriend and I have often driven back and forth between the two states over the summer, but never winter. Which is why I was wondering if anyone had any experience/advice to throw out for me?

My mom is convinced we'll all die in a blizzard, and since we ususally take 80 through wyoming and utah she says that's the part that'll get hit the worst and where we'll surely die.

Any ideas? I have snow chains, but not much experience with them.

Anything would help. Thanks!
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Old 11-28-2012, 08:10 PM
 
Location: Eastern Colorado
3,768 posts, read 4,620,009 times
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Depends on where in California? If the weather is decent, then by all means use I-80, if it is windy and the forecast is bad you may want to go through I-70, or worst case scenario is drop all the way down to new Mexico and drive across I-40
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Old 11-28-2012, 09:13 PM
 
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I'm from northern california, near San Francisco. So ideally, I'd like to skip coming up from Southern California/Los Angeles area.

I guess my main concern is just to HOW bad the weather can get. I'm not extremeley experienced driving in the snow, but I know we can handle a little. I was just looking mainly for someone who's driven either 70 or 80 during December who knows what the conditions are really like.
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Old 11-28-2012, 09:36 PM
 
Location: Sacramento
13,781 posts, read 23,758,379 times
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I-80 can be really difficult in the winter, though most of the time traffic conditions isn't a problem.

All you really can do is check the weather forecast and with the CA Dept of Transportation for current conditions:

Chain Control Map

Truckee Weather Forecast and Conditions - weather.com
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Old 11-28-2012, 09:46 PM
 
Location: Eastern Colorado
3,768 posts, read 4,620,009 times
Reputation: 4893
Quote:
Originally Posted by CourtneyS View Post
I'm from northern california, near San Francisco. So ideally, I'd like to skip coming up from Southern California/Los Angeles area.

I guess my main concern is just to HOW bad the weather can get. I'm not extremeley experienced driving in the snow, but I know we can handle a little. I was just looking mainly for someone who's driven either 70 or 80 during December who knows what the conditions are really like.

I understand wanting to skip so cal, as for the drive on both I 70 and I 80, both can be very bad or not bad at all, it really depends on the day. The biggest problem with the weather in Wyoming is the blowing snow and wind, I-80 can get very nasty without much snow accumulation but a bad wind. I-70 on the other hand is not really the wind but just the steep inclines that turn to ice quickly.

The thing about it is I have been on both in winter where they are clear all the way out to the Utah line. I have also been on both where they were clear at 9 am and had a major snow storm going by 3 pm. I have been in a major snow storm on both sides of Eisenhower pass and got to the other side to see clear roads and only slightly overcast skies. I have watched a big wind gust push a semi across an icy highway and into a ditch on I-80. The thing to realize is that both are major interstates and both are taken good care of, once a major storm hits they do not take long to make them decent enough to drive.

so to answer your question on which one I would take, i would watch the weather for a few days ahead of time, I would check both of these sites
WYDOT Travel Information Service (Laramie)
Road Conditions, Speeds, Travel Times, Traffic Cameras, Live Streaming Traffic Cameras, Road Closures and Road Work Information provided by Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) a branch of Colorado Department of Transportation

then make your plans realizing that conditions can change, but if you take your time you should be just fine, or if it gets to bad to where you guys no longer feel comfortable driving, find somewhere to pull over and relax for a while so that the road crews can clean up the roads.
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Old 11-28-2012, 09:49 PM
 
11,256 posts, read 43,199,644 times
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I've made the trip CO-CA (N&S) on I-70 and I-80, over 50 round-trips ... in winter months/Thanksgiving/Christmas/NewYears time frames .... in everything from a Ford Custom500 to MB's (gassers and diesels), BMW's, Audi's, Subaru's, Alfa-Romeo's, Triumphs, MG's, A-H's, U-Haul trucks of varying sizes, a Dodge 3500 van, and so forth ...

You didn't mention what car you'll be driving, and this can be an important factor, along with the condition of the car and the tires on it.

IMO, if conditions are bad enough to warrant using the tire chains, they are far worse than conditions that you should be out driving in. If you haven't actually put chains on your car before in lesser situations and driven on them, a 1,000 mile trip isn't the place to be learning how in adverse conditions when no other option presents.

So, outside of having an appropriate condition vehicle and tires, the biggest factor will be the weather pattern on the highway for your trip. Check the weather forecasts a few days in advance of your planned departure, and if adverse conditions are forecast, then be prepared to either delay, leave early, or take an alternate route that avoids the worst of a regional storm passage. If the storm is truly widespread and I-70 and I-80 routes are affected, your choices are to wait it out until the conditions improve or to divert to an alternate such as I-25 South and then Westward as possible; of course, this can add substantial driving distance and time to your destination. It may be prudent to wait out the conditions, or if they are widespread and several fronts are moving through, you may just have to take the alternative route.

A modest travel kit of warm clothes, some food and beverages, and snow kit ... gloves, hats, heavier coats, snow brushes/ice scraper, possibly a small shovel, tow strap, jumper cables, etc. ... none of it absolutely necessary, but it is prudent to be prepared for adverse conditions and if you need this stuff, you'll be happy to have had it along. It can be the difference between an inconvenience and a rather bad experience.

It may also be prudent to consider having a motor club affiliation, either through your car insurance company or one of the outfits that sell this coverage. For a reasonably modest annual fee, you've got roadside assistance via your mobile phone for many possible road problems ... out of fuel, needing a jump, towing coverage, etc.

In your trip, be prepared to stop in the next available town when forecasts and conditions deteriorate to where the driving is difficult due to road surfaces or visibility. Get the forecasts, have a realistic expectation of what to see in the near term, and if it's worse than you care to deal with, get a motel room for the night. Stop sooner than later, because motel rooms on your route in all but the major cities can be booked out very quickly. If you're not a very experienced driver in these conditions, consider daytime driving only, as nighttime with colder temps and frontal passages can be even more challenging than daytime driving. It is far better to err on the side of safety and driving within your skill level than it is to push on into conditions that may exceed your abilities.

I've had trips that went without incident, some that were problematic for portions of the trip, and some where virtually every route once inland from the West coast to the mountains lead to impassable roads for a day or two, so I either delayed my trip or found a motel for awhile. At this point, nobody knows what will present later this year. Watch the weather patterns and road reports, and use your good judgement.
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Old 11-28-2012, 09:59 PM
 
Location: Nebraska
4,231 posts, read 7,242,465 times
Reputation: 6679
Quote:
Originally Posted by CourtneyS View Post
Hi all!
I am considering driving home to California for the holidays with my boyfriend and my dog. No airlines would allow my puppy, and dog boarders/sitters are REALLY expensive; especially because we want to be leaving for about 3 weeks.

What I'm concerned about is the weather. I know the roads well, my boyfriend and I have often driven back and forth between the two states over the summer, but never winter. Which is why I was wondering if anyone had any experience/advice to throw out for me?

My mom is convinced we'll all die in a blizzard, and since we ususally take 80 through wyoming and utah she says that's the part that'll get hit the worst and where we'll surely die.

Any ideas? I have snow chains, but not much experience with them.

Anything would help. Thanks!
Enjoy a trip on Amtrak and then rent a car to get around when you get to California. You will have a fantastic experience and may actually find it to be cheaper. I have saved tons of money bt buying through outfits like Travelocity etc. The longer ahead of time the larger the savings. Compare departure dates to maximize your savings.

GL2
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Old 11-28-2012, 10:00 PM
 
Location: Nebraska
4,231 posts, read 7,242,465 times
Reputation: 6679
PS I forgot to mention that Amtrak MAY be able to make arrangements for your dog.
GL2
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Old 11-28-2012, 10:34 PM
 
11,256 posts, read 43,199,644 times
Reputation: 14905
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gunluvver2 View Post
PS I forgot to mention that Amtrak MAY be able to make arrangements for your dog.
GL2
Say What?

"Amtrak has a very strict "no pets" policy, which they enforce tightly. This is described clearly on their web site."

They make an exception for service dogs, with very strict behavior requirements.

Outside of that, there's a couple of problems with AMTRAK to NoCA ...

1) a one-way fare over $300 per person; even a car getting 25 mpg can do this trip on about 40 gallons of gasoline and transport TWO people, personal belongings, and the dog
2) no service from Fort Collins; the closest terminal is Denver
3) it's a 30+ hour trip on the train compared to approx 16 hours driving time if the roads are reasonably clear
4) when they get to CA, they already have their own car for their three weeks of transportation needs; have you priced a rental car for three weeks as opposed to the cost of using one's own car?
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Old 11-29-2012, 08:50 AM
 
Location: The 719
14,498 posts, read 22,345,330 times
Reputation: 13809
Quote:
Originally Posted by CourtneyS View Post
My mom is convinced we'll all die in a blizzard, and since we ususally take 80 through wyoming and utah she says that's the part that'll get hit the worst and where we'll surely die.
Not to mention the Alferd Packer Situation.

Last edited by Mike from back east; 03-28-2017 at 06:22 PM..
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