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  1. Default Driving coast to coast in the winter

    Hey Guys,

    My wife and I are looking to drive our car cross country from Long Island, NY to either Seattle, San Fran, or Los Angeles, I will be shipping my car from some west coast port to Hawaii. I have set aside 8 days to do this drive safely. As far as the shortest way from where I am, it seems I-80 to 1-90 to Seattle. But I am worried about the winter storms that can cause a delay in the ETA. Does anyone have experience in taking I-80 to I-90 in the winter months? How bad can the roads get? Do I need to carry tire chains? I will be driving an SUV car with 4-wheel drive which will be helpful?
    Also looking at I-40 across, passing through the warmer states. But looks like I'd have to tack on another day or 2 of driving. In your opinions do you think it be a better choice to take I-40 across as opposed to I-70, or I-80/I-90 Sorry for all the newbie questions, I am mainly just worried about the weather, and driving in snow.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default No guarantees anyway.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    Anywhere can see winter storms, but I guess you haven't got the luxury to wait and see what the weather is, presuming you have to arrange the shipping of the car in advance ?

    According to Google maps heading to LA by way of St Louis and Oklahoma to I 40 is the quickest route, but not by much. With 8 day's you have allowed yourself a relaxed pace and if a winter storm did occur you could pull off Interstate and take a rest while the road crews do their jobs. Interstates are a priority to keep open and to keep the country moving, if it got that bad to need chains it's time to get off the road anyway.

    Have you checked the different costs from each port for shipping the car ? That could play a part in deciding where you are heading.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default pretty equal

    I believe its actually a bit shorter to go to LA than to Seattle, although its close enough that if the specific starting and ending locations could switch it slightly.

    Since it is not a significant difference, I'd probably choose LA as your shipping point. There is no way of knowing what weather you'll see at this point and the odds of seeing bad weather going to Seattle aren't really that much different than going to LA. However, by going to LA you'd have a few more options to try to avoid bad weather (I-80, I-70, I-40, and possibly even I-10). You also would be able to go south first, if they are seeing bad weather in the great lakes states. Just don't make the assumption that by going through "warmer" states, you'll avoid bad weather. They still see snow in all of those states, and often that warmer weather you speak of is just enough to turn a moderate snowfall into a severe ice storm.

    With 8 days you have some flexability with your route options, and as Dave mentioned, you'd have the luxury of being able to sit and wait out a storm if you had too.

  4. Default

    Thanks for the advice gentlemen.

    One question that I am a little unclear about. I have decided to drive to Seattle to ship my truck. I am fine with the trip except for whether or not to stay on I-80 past Chicago into Iowa, and NE, and up to I-90 at some point - I-29??
    through Chicago to grab I-90/I-94.
    Which way would possibly be less traffic? and less confusing?

    Thanks so much.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    There are 2 good ways to get from NYC to Seattle - pick one, and I'd let the weather and road conditions make your choice.

    Both are I-80 to Chicago.

    1. I-80/I-355/I-290/I-90
    2. I-80/I-84/I-82/I-90

    Bring your EZ-Pass.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default pretty similar

    You won't see a big difference in travel time generally among any of those options, but sticking with I-80 through Iowa will probably be the most simple with the least traffic.

    I-80 just brushes the southern end of Chicago, and while it can and does see traffic near Gary, you miss out on going through the heart of Chicago. You also don't have to change any highways until you get to near Omaha, when you'll want to take I-680 to I-29 and cut up from there.

    Having said that, since weather is a factor, you may be better off taking I-90 through Wisconsin and Minnesota, or even continuing up I-94 and take that through the Twin Cities (I-694 bypass would keep you out of downtown) and across North Dakota. That all depends upon where a storm might be on any given day.

  7. #7

    Default Grip it and rip it........

    Hello johndaley65,

    Based only on my personal experiences, I'd not add 1 or 2 day's drive in an effort to avoid winter weather. Two reasons: Every mile you drive has risk, and when you're adding California freeway miles, those risks are, in my opinion, greater. The other is there's no way to cross the Rockies without some elevation, and elevation can bring snow or ice from Canada to Mexico.

    I often sing the praises of I-90 across MT and ID in winter. The MT segment is generally low in elevation, following the valleys of the Yellowstone, Madison, and Clark Fork Rivers at elevations ranging between 3,500' and 4.500'. There are only three high passes between the rivers and those segments offer but short distances (8-10 miles or so) of higher elevations. The MTDOT plow folks are "the Pros from Dover" when it comes to keeping the passes open, too.

    All in all, with that kind of time available for the trip, I'd take the most direct route. Just keep an eye on the forecast some 500-1,000 miles ahead of you. Absent a forecast blizzard, I'd reckon the worst you'll encounter is a few hours delay in the event one of the passes gets a heavy snow.

    From the trip time frame and shipping a vehicle to HI I'm guessing this is a PCS military move. If correct, thank you for your service and enjoy your duty in HI. I visited the Big Island 4 years ago and can hardly wait to go back.


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