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Old 11-27-2007, 01:12 PM
 
2 posts, read 11,052 times
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I will be moving soon from San Francisco to MA with a stop in IN to visit my family. I will have my fiance with me, and we are going to be splitting the driving time, with her doing the driving during the day, and me driving at night. I have a 2004 Dodge Stratus and was wondering if driving through the mountains on the 80 E through Utah an Wyoming is going to be safe enough with it being December. If that way is not safe, then another way that wont take too much time? She will be transferring so we will have like a week to get to MA and I would like to spend a few days with my family in IN. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much....
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Old 12-01-2007, 10:35 PM
 
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Hi Casey.d! It's 3100 miles from SF to Boston. And that's direct route across I-80, not detouring in IN. Weather could be a real bear in DEC, especially in the Sierras, across the Great Salt Lake and, yes, I-80 between SLC and the NE line. Heck, any stretch of I-80 could be closed for weather at any time. A week would be really pushing it if you ran into bad weather. Flying might be the better option, but even THAT isn't the best option. AMTRAK might be a possibility. Are you relatives in Northern IN? See other posts about road/weather conditions in UT/WY. They can be BRUTAL...

Good luck!
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Old 12-31-2007, 09:18 PM
 
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Default thanks crew chief

well, we decided to leave the last week of january, and we are going to take the 5 down to catch the 10 and take that all the way through texas and then head north through dallas. we figured that would be the safest way during that time, didnt really want to fight the snow in the middle of winter...haha. and my family lives in central indiana, so we will stop there for a few days and then head to massachusetts.
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Old 01-02-2008, 07:28 AM
 
Location: in drifts of snow wherever you go
2,493 posts, read 3,283,198 times
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Originally Posted by casey.d View Post
well, we decided to leave the last week of january, and we are going to take the 5 down to catch the 10 and take that all the way through texas and then head north through dallas. we figured that would be the safest way during that time, didnt really want to fight the snow in the middle of winter...haha. and my family lives in central indiana, so we will stop there for a few days and then head to massachusetts.
You are adding a lot of extra miles to your trip!

I just drove across country a few weeks ago from Los Angeles to Massachusetts. I took I-15 to I-70 straight over the Rockies and then cut up to 90 through New York. It was no big deal. If it snows, pull over and stay in a motel!
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Old 01-02-2008, 08:00 AM
 
Location: Oz
2,238 posts, read 8,895,920 times
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Originally Posted by GreenMachine View Post
You are adding a lot of extra miles to your trip!

I just drove across country a few weeks ago from Los Angeles to Massachusetts. I took I-15 to I-70 straight over the Rockies and then cut up to 90 through New York. It was no big deal. If it snows, pull over and stay in a motel!
Greenie's right. Just take I-80 most of the way. It's a very large interstate that isn't closed for weather that often. Even if it does get bad enough that you don't want to drive, just pull over and spend the night in a motel.

I would not miss the opportunity to make this drive in winter, because it is absolutely gorgeous.
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Old 01-02-2008, 08:34 AM
 
Location: in drifts of snow wherever you go
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Default Rocky Mountains in Winter

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Old 10-18-2009, 03:13 PM
 
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Default Traveling Across Country In November

In late November, I am going to drive from Cinti, Ohio to the Tricities in Washington (west of Spokane). I will have 2 doggies with me...What is the safest route? Mapquest states I-90 for a direct route but that seems like it would be very bad in the winter....Any suggestions?
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Old 10-18-2009, 07:01 PM
 
Location: Aloverton
6,564 posts, read 12,315,614 times
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Originally Posted by pudgemobile View Post
In late November, I am going to drive from Cinti, Ohio to the Tricities in Washington (west of Spokane). I will have 2 doggies with me...What is the safest route? Mapquest states I-90 for a direct route but that seems like it would be very bad in the winter....Any suggestions?
Well, on behalf of the Dry Cities, welcome aboard in advance.

I-70, 80 and 90 can all have serious winter moments. All spend many miles crossing sparsely populated areas where it is costly and difficult to keep roads completely clear, and all of them cross through areas where weather can be unpredictable any time of year. As I noticed when I was fueling up in Rawlins after driving all day from Kennewick, and felt a light snow falling on my shoulders. In June. Several things are important:

--All else being equal, more northerly is generally colder. A factor when you have to get out at rest areas for everyone to make pit stops.

--The signs saying BRIDGES MAY BE ICY are no joke, especially at morning. Consider the amount of moisture in the air where you are at, because that's the reason we don't get much ice in Tri-Cities: there isn't enough moisture to freeze to the oft-frozen surfaces most of the time. But if we get freezing rain, this place is a hockey rink.

--You could always equip your car with studded tires. Many people in the TC have these, so you'd probably end up buying them anyway. Issue: check along the route to see when they become legal in the various states, if they are legal at all. Of course, it's not easy for the police to notice them while you are moving, so odds of a ticket aren't real high. I think they're legal in Washington in November through March. I better check, because it's one of my jobs to make sure my wife's car is taken care of.

--It is important to be prepared for sudden weather changes of a drastic nature. If I were you I'd have a small road kit with wool blankets and/or space blankets, some granola bars and water, and other things you might want if you slid off into a snowbank and had to wait for help. Having the dogs will help.

--If you expect icy conditions, you probably know to increase your following distance greatly. A lot of the time, there won't be that many vehicles on the road, meaning that if you go into a skid perhaps it becomes a non-issue as you don't hit anyone and no one hits you before you get turned around correctly and keep moving (hope you didn't wet yourself). What would be a criminally stupid shame is to be tailgating someone in such conditions and get in an accident that you could have completely avoided if you'd been a couple hundred yards behind the dude that just fishtailed, and simply let off the gas and let inertia bleed off your speed.

--Just because it's legal to go 75 doesn't mean you should feel obligated to go that fast or faster. As long as you are staying right, remember that while you should not create a hazard with slow driving, any state would ticket you for 'too fast for conditions' if you slid on ice and had an accident, on the (stupid) grounds that if you got in an accident on ice you were automatically driving too fast for conditions. So if an Idaho State Police officer stops you and asks how come you're only doing 65, it is reasonable (assuming it's cold enough for it to be credible) to say you felt a bit of a skid on ice a couple of miles back and wanted to make sure you didn't go too fast for conditions.

Drive safe. When you hit town, treat yourself to Casa Mia in Richland or Kennewick--one of the few local restaurants that would be in business if it were in Seattle. Then kick back with some Ice Harbor IPAs. Columbia Park is great for playing frisbee with dogs.
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Old 10-19-2009, 01:09 AM
 
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
22,638 posts, read 40,010,157 times
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Originally Posted by pudgemobile View Post
In late November, I am going to drive from Cinti, Ohio to the Tricities in Washington (west of Spokane). I will have 2 doggies with me...What is the safest route? Mapquest states I-90 for a direct route but that seems like it would be very bad in the winter....Any suggestions?
Keep an eye on the long range forecast Climate Prediction Center - 6 to 10 Day Outlook

Then chose the route that looks to have the least chance of Moisture (bitter cold is better than freezing rain.)

I will bet that I-90 will be best. (From my 40 yrs experience in driving Wyo / MT / Colo, often weekly through all three)

Be sure to take a winter survival kit in your car, I like to also carry flares and a tall orange bicycle flag if you get into a drift, off the road, or want a plow to see you. Candles (& matches!!) and water are very important, as well as a sleeping bag.

Get your car serviced; belts, hoses, filters (especially fuel filter) and wipers. Use fuel treatment to keep lines from icing.

WA will probably be the worst for needing studs, as crunchy snow and blowing areas are decent for traction. I never used studs in the Mtn states, but do all winter in WA (freezing rain). In fact, I never even needed snow tires in mtn states. I was a truckdriver for 7 yrs in Wyo, and never had snow tires on my rig.

I -80 can be very windy and treacherous, especially NE and WY. Also very desolate. (I have had my truck blow across the parking lot on the ice, while I was at a rest area on I-80). Rawlins, Green River, Rock Springs are not nice places to winter.
I-70 has the 'wild-card'; Colorado unpredictable weather + several significant mtn passes, and LOTS of ski traffic.
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Old 10-19-2009, 04:44 AM
 
Location: Texas
14,078 posts, read 17,674,292 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pudgemobile View Post
In late November, I am going to drive from Cinti, Ohio to the Tricities in Washington (west of Spokane). I will have 2 doggies with me...What is the safest route? Mapquest states I-90 for a direct route but that seems like it would be very bad in the winter....Any suggestions?

Mapquest has never driven over Homestake or Lookout passes in the winter time. Personally, I'd avoid that route unless I had no choice. And, it's quite a bit farther as the Tri-Cities are not west of Spokane, but more than hundred miles SW of there.

From Cincy? I-74 to the Quad Cities, where you'll catch I-80. Just get on it and stay on it until you come to Echo, UT, where it junctions with I-84. There is a shorter route using US-30 from Little America, WY to McCammon, ID, then up I-15 to Pocatello and west on I-86 until it junctions with I-84, but it's mostly 2 lane and goes over a little pass just before Soda Springs, ID. If the weather is good, go that way. If not, stay on I-80 to I-84 and, while you'll go through the Wasatch Mountains, you won't go OVER any of them. Obviously, the lower the elevation, the better off you are.

Continue on I-84 to Umatilla, OR, then up I-82 to the Tri-Cities. The only real mountain pass you'll have to cross this way is Cabbage (or, Immigrant Pass) between LaGrande and Pendleton, OR. It's 6 miles of 6% downgrade, but they do a fair job of keeping it sanded with cinders. Just before LaGrande, you go down Ladd Canyon, but it's usually cindered after awhile.

Along that whole route, from beginning to end, you're likely to run into varying weather conditions and it can be ugly all the way, or clear all the way. Some states and localities are better than others at plowing and salting the road, while Wyoming and Oregon typically do nothing at all in the rural stretches which are relatively flat. Illinois is good if you'll give them a little time. Iowa is touch and go as each county and DOT district does it differently. Nebraska will eventually get it done, so be patient. Don't expect much in Wyoming, Utah, Idaho or Oregon. They'll plow the deep drifts, or even close the road, but it's mostly done by the religious method: The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. The only saving grace in those states is that very often, the snow is fine, dry particles which give pretty good traction, so long as it's still falling.

Your biggest threat isn't the snow anyhow, it's wind and it's apt to blow just about anywhere west of Illinois. Western Nebraska and Wyoming, before Evanston, is notorious for high winds which can topple big trucks and blow cars right off icy roads. There is no defense for it, other than to slow down or stop. One stretch, between Laramie and Rawlins, WY, is particularly bad as the winds blow down off Elk Mountain and make traveling through there a very risky crap shoot. The cops patrol it regularly during high winds, but there are times when even they won't attempt it, so if you go off the road, you may be there alone for awhile. Be prepared. Or, take US-30 out of Laramie, a two-lane road which stays in lower elevations, until it junctions back with I-80 at Walcott. Typically, it does not blow nearly so hard along that route.

Be particularly alert for blowing snow which leaves a sheen of ice wherever it crosses the road. Most of the western states have snow fences to help prevent that, but they can't be everywhere. You may be driving along on a perfectly dry road, under clear skies, then suddenly hit a patch of pure ice. It's especially treacherous at night if you are traveling at the posted speed and over-driving your headlights.

Overall, it's not a bad route, but it can become that way very quickly, so just be careful and prepared. Take a little food, water, thermal blanket and cell phone with you, just in case you have to spend the night in your car. The temperatures can be brutal and it is still possible to freeze to death right alongside the interstate.

Millions travel that route every winter and do just fine. You will too if you keep your head screwed on tight.
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