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  1. Default San Fran to Seattle at Xmas

    Hi there! My partner and I are coming over from sunny Australia to visit his family, and planning to drive from San Francisco to Seattle. We are arriving on the 20th Dec so I imagine there will be snow everywhere? What will the roads be like and what are the "must see's" along the way? I would love to hear what you think!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default options

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    There will be snow in parts of these areas, but much of it will depend upon how close you are to the coast. If you stay near the water, probably wouldn't see any snow at all. If you go inland, into the mountains, then you'll almost certainly see snow.

    How long do you plan on taking for this trip and do you know roughly which route you're thinking of taking?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Short answer: maybe

    It is possible for there to be snow in any part of Washington or Oregon during December but it's not really the norm.

    If you drive up I-5, the only place you might see some snow is when you go over the Siskiyou Pass in Southern Oregon/Northern California. It's not common here but it does happen. But it's rare for this to be an issue as the roads are kept clear for commercial trucking of goods. If you find snow/ice conditions anywhere along I-5, I suggest you get a later start in the day so more traffic has driven the roads and had a chance to melt what's there, and then adjust your driving accordingly by going slower.

    Of course, if snow is outright falling, you will want to check with Oregon DOT at 511 to see what they recommend. It might mean a layover of a few hours or a day but these events are rare.

    If you drive up the coast, it's extremely rare to get snow but you might encounter black ice. This is a very thin sheet of ice that normally melts after a bit of traffic so, again, just don't get a real early start and it will be melted off from vehicles by the time you get on the road. You can't see this ice and it only happens if there was a wet road and a very cold night, below freezing. Even then, you only tend to find black ice in dips in the road, often with tall trees on each side of the road so the sun doesn't get to it. So, in addition to waiting until a bit later in the day to get going, you should adjust your driving again by going slower on curves, especially hilly curves where there are dips. If the temperature has gone above freezing, this ice melts very quickly.

    So, really, the chances of having these conditions are rare but it's even more rare that they will be significant enough to effect your trip beyond requiring you to slow down a bit.

    Hope that helps.

  4. Default

    thank you that is great to know. I think we might go most of the way along the coast so that is even further from the snow, not that we dont like snow, just not so sure about driving in it! We will have 5 or so days - so could come inland it there was something we definitely should do. Any ideas??

  5. Default

    Do you have 5 days to drive from San Francisco to Seattle? Or do you just have 5 days total to drive and visit and return to S.F.?

    If you have 5 days to make the drive up to Seattle, then I recommend you take the coast. It's a beautiful drive and you will go through the redwoods and see some spectacular Pacific Ocean beaches, views, landmarks, etc. Be sure to double check that there are no landslides on Highway 101. You can always cut over to Interstate 5 in Oregon if it looks like your time is running short. Some of the most beautiful beaches, cliffs, rock formations, etc. are in the northern part of Oregon, however (also just north of Gold Beach until you get to the dunes and Hwy 101 cuts inland for a long stretch).

    The only places along the I-5 corridor from S.F. to Seattle that might be a problem would be the Siskiyou summit (as mentioned above) and also the mountains just north of Grants Pass, OR. Unless the weather is just unseasonably severe, the drive on I-5 should not cause a problem. Just be sure to check the weather forecasts and road conditions. The pass just south of Ashland, OR has been shut down on numerous occasions because it literally turns into a sheet of ice! (But it's still very rare that it closes).

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