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  1. Default Minneapolis to Seattle in December!

    So I'm relocating to Seattle at the end of the month and am looking for recommendations on whether or not my boyfriend and I should make the journey across in a car this winter. I know part of this depends on weather conditions, but assuming there are no major winter storms, how dangerous is it to drive across I-94 and I-90 in late December/early January. My mother is shitting frisbees over this, sending me almost daily e-mails detailing why I shouldn't go and warning me I'm going to die in an avalanche or some other snowy death. (Just a note: my mom and I are both born and bred Texans, so snow is not in our vocabulary. My mom also shit frisbees -- along with a few kittens, bricks, and oven mitts -- when I decided to move to Minneapolis, simply because it snows here, and I would be expected to drive in it for my job.)

    I've thought about trying to go around, but then there's the ice to contend with down south, and it's several days more driving time to avoid the mountains, which I think is ridiculous. Better to stick it out on the northern route and hold out for good weather, I think. The prospect of living in a new city, with my job which involves having to be ready and at the airport at a moment's notice, without a car is absolutely daunting. Can't afford a new one at this point, so I think I should just go across. Plus, my boyfriend has the winter driving experience that I don't, so I feel comfortable that with him at the helm, we can reasonably expect to survive a certain degree of ice and snow. Any comments, suggestions, further warnings of imminent doom? ;)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Common sense and luck

    Quote Originally Posted by iwannabekate View Post
    So I'm relocating to Seattle at the end of the month
    Seattle is a beautiful place to live -- congratulations on the pending transfer. Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum!

    Your first choice is the correct one -- I-94 and I-90 tend to be storm free until January most years and this year appears to be fitting the trend. The funny thing about the northern route, is that it is often too darn cold to snow (insufficient moisture in the air when it is that cold) and so snow doesn't form until that darn cold air reaches states further to the south.
    how dangerous is it to drive across I-94 and I-90 in late December/early January.
    Not dangerous at all. Hundreds, thousands of other drivers will be out there too and the state highway departments do an excellent job keeping the roads open. Here are some winter driving tips.

    Tell your mom to put those frisbees back into storage... Here are some general safety on the road tips. Oregon has some of the best road condition reporting tools -- you can get all of the road conditions alert phone numbers on this page.

    You are going to have a grand adventure.

    Mark

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default on the right path.

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    but assuming there are no major winter storms, how dangerous is it to drive across I-94 and I-90 in late December/early January.
    Assuming you don't hit a bad storm, I can't see why it would be any more dangerous that driving on any other interstate at any other time of year. Just make sure you've got a cold weather survival kit in case you do run into problems.

    You could very well run into a little bad weather, and worst case, you'd have to pull off and stop for a little while and wait for things to clear, but it seems like you already have a good grasp on the situation, even if your mom isn't quite as understanding.

    ps-thanks to your username, I've got BFF stuck in my head....

  4. #4

    Default Moms, where would we be without them?

    Frisbees, eh? Haven't heard that one before. It's a good one.

    Give yourself, and, for that matter, Mom, a look at www.mdt.mt.gov/travinfo/weather/rwis.shtml. There you'll find regularly updated photographic images of critical passes and stretches of roadway throughout Montana's parts of I-94 and I-90. Idaho's got a similar page, linked to the Montana pages.

    Bottom line is you're dealing with well-equipped professionals along that tier of states. Yes, you may get delayed until the plows clear the highest passes or particularly windswept sections, but that's far simpler, and safer, than driving hundreds of miles out of your way to avoid ice, snow, or mountains. I often take a peek at the Montana site during bad weather and it's common to see snow removal equipment pictured in the random but regular webcam photo captures.

    I'd keep some "emergency" warm clothes and a good sleeping bag in the car, along with some food and water. Charged up cellphones and a CB radio are always a good idea, too. I think Mark's got some tips for winter weather travel here somewhere and that'd provide a more complete list. Plus, I'd keep an extra gallon of severe temp-duty windshield washer fluid aboard, as I personally hate to always be looking through a salt spray-coated windshield.

    I wonder what those who traveled South to I-40 to avoid bad weather are thinking now? Ouch! North Texas and Oklahoma--now that's a real travel problem for, you yesterday and today.

    Foy

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default ...Except under duress

    Quote Originally Posted by Foy View Post
    I wonder what those who traveled South to I-40 to avoid bad weather are thinking now?
    I won't travel on I-40 in November, December and January, unless there is no alternative -- I have been in outrageous ice storms in Texas over the years on I-40!

    Mark

  6. Default Not that bad

    I live in Seattle with relatives in Minneapolis and have made that trip every December and January both ways for the past four years. We usually try to be flexible with time such as leaving a day earlier or later than planned to time things with snow to make the trip in 2 days.

    In addition to 94, you also have options of cutting down to 90 or even 80 if snow slows things down. The roads are generally straight, flat, and clear until you get to closer to Idaho on 90 or Utah on 80 where you have around 100 miles of mountain conditions. Then, if there's snow, you might expect to be going 25 mph tops and using chains if your car is 2WD.

    Snoqualmie pass near Seattle is probably the toughest stretch along the route, but if you keep your speed down when the roads are snow-covered then you should be fine.

    Another tip - as soon as you see cars start to fill the parking lots of hotels, especially in Montana, book a room or you might end up driving from town to town until the next morning before you find a hotel with vacancy.

    Have fun!

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