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Old 12-26-2014, 08:13 AM
 
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We are planning to drive back to WA state around the last two weeks of Jan 2015. It is a major move...in fact, all our household stuff has already been moved to Blaine, WA...where we have a house. We will be driving from Palm Coast, FL (just south of Jacksonville, FL) in a Chrysler Town & Country mini van and pulling a small U-Haul cargo trailer. We planned to take the southern route...straight west on I-10 all the way to CA where it hooks up with I-5 heading north. Being the start of the winter season, I was concerned about running into nasty weather/road conditions...particularly after we start climbing up towards Shasta area in California...and later through Oregon. For those who have experienced driving the I-5 route through northern CA, OR, etc...any advice on what to watch out for during this period? Anywhere else along the route mentioned that I should be concerned about? I planned to drive mostly during the daylight hours. I will be checking on weather and road conditions just before we leave but nothing like hearing from folks who have driven this route and personally know what I should be cautious about.
No time restrictions on our part so we can take as long of a time as needed to make this trip as safely as possible. Your replies/advice greatly appreciated.

Last edited by FCStraight; 12-26-2014 at 08:21 AM.. Reason: Minor corrections and additions.
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Old 12-26-2014, 01:00 PM
 
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There is no way to predict in advance what the weather and road conditions will be like.

It could be warm and sunny with dry roads and no winds, or it could be blizzard conditions with snow measuring in the feet.

I would be prepared for either option with survival gear and food in the vehicle.
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Old 12-26-2014, 05:01 PM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
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Quote:
Originally Posted by annerk View Post
There is no way to predict in advance what the weather and road conditions will be like.

It could be warm and sunny with dry roads and no winds, or it could be blizzard conditions with snow measuring in the feet.

I would be prepared for either option with survival gear and food in the vehicle.
True. I have made the trip between Seattle and San Francisco area many times in winter, and
most of the time it's been smooth sailing, but a few times needed to use 4WD (chains required for 2W) and once was stuck on the Siskiyou Pass for two hours in a blizzard in February. We ran into a light snow there last April. I5 is well maintained, but always be prepared for the worst just in case. You could always wait it out in Redding CA if you end up with bad timing. Of course, there have been years when there was snow all the way from Portland to Blaine, like 2008-09 when we got 23".
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Old 12-29-2014, 05:51 PM
 
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Thanks for your suggestions. We took the mountain route last year in early December through Oregon...to Klamath Falls...via Alturas and down to Reno...and that long, desolate highway to Las Vegas...then up I-40 almost to Flagstaff. Expecting the worst...but it was a beautiful drive all the way. Continued on last week of December from Prescott, AZ down to I-10 and straight on to Jacksonville, FL...arriving New Year's day.
Also was clear all the way...with some rain in the New Orleans area. We'll monitor the weather closely during the last two weeks in January and stop well before any nasty weather ahead of us. I'll remember to check on weather conditions going up the Mt. Shasta area...and Redding is a good place to stop if need be.
Thanks. Just wondered if the coastal highway (Hwy 1?) at lower elevations would be better in case I-5 up Mt. Shasta gets snowed in?
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Old 12-30-2014, 10:43 AM
 
Location: North Idaho
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That time of year, I would stay as far south as possible. Pick up I-5 in San Diego and run straight up I-5.

You'll have a good trip. You might need chains over a couple of higher passes in Oregon. The road is very well maintained and plowed, but sometimes it is icy. It's not like you won't want chains living in Washington, anyway. so it won't be a financial loss to buy a set.

Check online with ODOT tripcheck. They have weather cams on all the highways in Oregon, plus weather advisories.

Washington state probably has weather cams, too, but I don't know the web address. I'd be really surprised if you need chains on I-5 in Washington, or even in Oregon once you get north of Roseburg.
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Old 12-30-2014, 10:46 AM
 
Location: North Idaho
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Adding: I don't know if there is a Les Schwab in Northern California, but if you can find one before you hit the passes, you can buy chains and then, at the end of the snow season, if you never used them, they will take them back and give you a refund.

Although, like I said, if you live in Washington, you are very likely to want to go up into the mountains in the winter, so it doesn't hurt to own a set of chains.
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Old 12-30-2014, 12:20 PM
 
Location: Seattle
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If time isn't critical, you can avoid any major risks by going up the coast from LA or SF all the way to/through Oregon, or cut back across to I-5 from the Oregon coast. My preferred route is US 101 to Oregon SR 38 at Reedsport, which goes through some very scenic country (Umpqua river gorge) to I-5 near Cottage Grove at the bottom of the Willamette Valley.

US 101 through northern California and southern Oregon is obviously not as fast as I-5, but it's exceptionally scenic (redwoods, coast) and only adds around 4-5 hours in drive time compared to I-5. If you use 101 all the way from LA (a very pleasant winter drive compared to the I-5 big-rig racetrack through Sensory Deprivation country in the central valley) it adds around a day to the trip, but IMO very worth it.
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Old 12-31-2014, 04:32 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gardyloo View Post
If time isn't critical, you can avoid any major risks by going up the coast from LA or SF all the way to/through Oregon, or cut back across to I-5 from the Oregon coast. My preferred route is US 101 to Oregon SR 38 at Reedsport, which goes through some very scenic country (Umpqua river gorge) to I-5 near Cottage Grove at the bottom of the Willamette Valley.

US 101 through northern California and southern Oregon is obviously not as fast as I-5, but it's exceptionally scenic (redwoods, coast) and only adds around 4-5 hours in drive time compared to I-5. If you use 101 all the way from LA (a very pleasant winter drive compared to the I-5 big-rig racetrack through Sensory Deprivation country in the central valley) it adds around a day to the trip, but IMO very worth it.
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Thanks for suggesting 101, Gardyloo. I thought of driving that way. Maybe stay on I-10 until it connects to 101...and straight north along the coast to..as you suggested, Reedsport...then get on SR 38 to Cottage Grove. Have a sister who lives in Cottage Grove...might be a good time to take a break from driving and visit the family. Noticed that SR 38 has very sharp zig-zag curves between Scottsburg and Elkton...would that be a problem as I will be pulling a small U-Haul cargo trailer? Perhaps Florence might be a better road..and hookup with I-5 in Eugene? What am I worrying for? I drove with a trailer the length of I-5 from Blaine, WA to Eugene, OR...then on 58 over the highlands, through Klamath Falls, Alturas, Reno...and that long Hwy 95 all the way to Las Vegas....then up I-40 to Flagstaff...in the winter, last year. Of course, I lucked out...didn't run into any nasty weather. Thanks...101 it will be...maybe even all the way to Aberdeen, on to Hwy 8...and connect to I-5 in Olympia...and home. Yes, my wife and I are not in a hurry to get to Blaine, WA. But I have a time limit on the U-Haul trailer...I think, 10 days from Palm Coast, FL to Blaine. So I'll take 8 days getting there instead of 4..like I did before going the opposite direction.
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Old 12-31-2014, 04:53 PM
 
307 posts, read 473,478 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oregonwoodsmoke View Post
Adding: I don't know if there is a Les Schwab in Northern California, but if you can find one before you hit the passes, you can buy chains and then, at the end of the snow season, if you never used them, they will take them back and give you a refund.

Although, like I said, if you live in Washington, you are very likely to want to go up into the mountains in the winter, so it doesn't hurt to own a set of chains.
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Tire chains are always good to have...but never had to use one in all the years I've lived in WA state (or anywhere else I've lived where it routinely snows in the winter). We're pretty much on the coastal area...low elevation. In fact, where my house is in Blaine...is only about 43 feet above sea level. Coming up to Bellingham from Mt. Vernon/Burlington area there is a slight climb...but not all that steep nor high...but with the right conditions...it could snow there...even in Blaine. In the years I've lived there...I didn't experience heavy snowfall (heavy to me is when you have to shovel snow to get out of your driveway...like we had when we lived in Bavaria, Germany not too long ago. And even there, I never used tire chains). As someone suggested...I think I'll just take the scenic 101 route along the coast and avoid the higher elevations altogether.

Last edited by FCStraight; 12-31-2014 at 04:56 PM.. Reason: Minor correction.
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