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  1. Default Question about Road Condition Reporting

    Hi,

    I'm new here and I have a question regarding one of the above posts.

    One poster advised another to check long-range weather reports weeks before traveling across the western US in winter. Where is the best place to find this information? Do the state DOTs or some private weather service provide updated traffic conditions in the winter that are accessible online?

    I am going to be traveling from Oregon to Florida and back again this winter.

    Thanks

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

    Default Here is a page full of web resources

    Quote Originally Posted by mandbil View Post
    One poster advised another to check long-range weather reports weeks before traveling across the western US in winter. Where is the best place to find this information?
    Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum -- we maintain a list of our favorite weather and road condition web resources here. The best site for road conditions for the entire USA is this one, but their server has been going down periodically.

    Mark

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Ummm.... No

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    I don't think anyone (in the previous thread) suggested checking long range forecasts weeks before travelling. Specifically, Mark called that an exercise in absurdity and Michael suggested checking long range forecasts just before leaving. The fact is that even with all the information available to meteorologists today, it is simply impossible to predict the weather with any accuracy more than a few days into the future. What we generally recommend is to plan for any contingency and to both have alternative routes mapped out before hand AND be willing to change your plans as conditions dictate. To make a final decision too far in advance and to press on regardless of the reality on the ground is to invite the kind of tragedy which occurred in Kansas today as at least two were killed in a 30 car pileup outside Topeka. And yes, there are many sources of real-time information on weather and road conditions. We list some of the most useful here.

    AZBuck

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default Road Conditions = Now

    Checking state DOT sites will not give you any insight into road conditions in the future, at least not beyond the very short term. These reports exclusively deal with what the conditions are at that very moment. They might include some short term forecasts, or let you know if there are any weather advisories in effect, but the primary function of the DOT based sites is to report on what drivers are seeing in a particular area right now, or in the very recent past.

    There are some pages put out by the national weather service that will give you some ideas about what you might see a week to maybe 14 days away, however, those pages really only tell you the likelyhood that temps and precip will be at, above, or below normal. They can help you get an idea of what you might see, but as Buck said, there really is no way of getting reliable forecast details until more than a couple days out.

  5. Default

    Thanks for the prompt responses. The websites will be helpful, but what about when I'm on the road and don't have internet access? Are there phone numbers I can call to find up-to-the-minute road conditions (either local or regional)? I saw the info about the 511 service on one of the websites. Does anyone know how timely and accurate 511's info is? Would it be wise to rely on this alone, or should I plan on stopping and hooking up to the internet regularly to check road conditions?

    Also, I'm legally required to buy and carry tire chains, even if I don't ever put them on, right?

    Thanks again!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Get a Weather radio or CB with NOAA channels

    Quote Originally Posted by mandbil View Post
    I saw the info about the 511 service on one of the websites.
    The reason we directed you to the 511 list, is that you can get those 511 telephone hotline numbers for each state you will be driving through and can call them periodically. The 511 program is not uniformally supported -- some states are great -- others are so-so. What I would recommend is to get either a NOAA weather radio (Radio Shack has a complete line) or get a CB radio with weather channels built in. Listen to the local traffic radio stations and you will be OK.
    Also, I'm legally required to buy and carry tire chains, even if I don't ever put them on, right?
    It really depends where you are -- many western states require that you have them on-board -- I have carried mine for years and never put them on and I have driven in really gnarly conditions.

    Mark

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default ancient technology

    While the internet is a wonderful tool, and can be a great way to stay on top of things like the weather, is not exactly the only way.

    Pretty much every hotel in the country has the weather channel on their TVs, so every day you should be able to get a good idea of what you will be traveling through in the next day or two, and if you should change your route accordingly.

    The 511 system is really just an outgrowth of a telephone system that most states already had in place, and lets people remember just one number instead of 50 of them, so even if a state doesn't have 511, it probably has some number you can call for updated road condition information.

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