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  1. #1

    Default from Seattle to Connecticut - and worried about the weather

    Hi, all! I am brand new to RoadTripAmerica, I lucked upon this site while looking for info on the typical weather in the Northern US. I am planning a trip from WA/OR to CT likely sometime in early March. I assume that the weather will still be pretty cold and snowy in the northern areas past Seattle, and figured on driving a bit south before heading east.

    My question is: how bad (typically) will the weather be if I am traveling along the Montana/Wyoming border and through S. Dakota? Am I likely to get slammed with bad storms? Would it make more sense weather-wise to leave from Portland, being a bit more south, and swing through Idaho/Wyoming/Nebraska? I can shift the time-frame of the trip a bit later, but would really prefer not to. I don't have a specific route planned out yet (obviously!) and would love any ideas and suggestions people have! Thanks!

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

    Default asking the impossible

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    You're hardly the first to ask such a question, but the reality is that there just is no way of knowing what weather you might see six months from now.

    It would not be uncommon to see a winter storm across Montana or the Dakota, or really anywhere along your route in March, however, saying its typical would imply you're likely to see a storm on any given day, which really isn't the case at any time of year for any route.

    Its also not any more likely that you'll see better weather by going south, as I-80 can and does see just as bad of storms as I-90 (and I-80 is actually at a higher elevation for most of the route across the west), even going all the way south to Southern California wouldn't provide any help as you'd first have to deal with the coastal mountains, and then I-40 and even I-10 can and do see winter storms and would add several days of travel which also increases your chances of seeing bad weather.

    Since I-90 and I-84/I-80 are both of very similar distance, your best bet is to monitor the weather forecasts just before you leave, and pick the one where the forecasts look most favorable based on specific information for your trip, not some hypothetical "what if" forecasting about what might or might not be typical.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I have driven I-90/94 from Spokane to Fargo in early March with no problems.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Allowing enough time.

    Keeping in mind that Interstates are a priority when it comes to keeping roads clear and the country moving, one of the important things to do is simply allow enough time to make the journey comfortably, so that if there is a storm you can simply pull up in a Motel or service area for a few hours while the road crews do there job.

  5. #5

    Default Chasing "good weather"

    Hello Eclipse,
    I'm a wholehearted believer that adding miles in an effort to avoid weather is, on average, unwise. Sure, driving off into a blizzard is unwise, but to plan a route which adds many miles to one's route in an effort to avoid weather is, in my opinion, a false economy, as every mile one drives, even in bluebird weather, has some risk associated with it.
    Furthermore, I think using I-80 instead of I-90 just because it runs further south is a classic example of the ineffectiveness of letting latitude govern route planning. I-80 stays above 6,000' for the whole of western and central WY, and reaches nearly 8,000' near Laramie, while I-90 remains around 4,000' through much of MT, including segments below 3,000' west of Missoula, at 3,000-3,400' east of Billings, and only has some 50-75 miles above 5,000' between west of Butte and Billings, including the principal central MT passes of Bozeman and Homestake.
    I'd look ahead at forecasts, become familiar with the webcam sites for the WY and MT DOT, and wait until departure before committing to a route. I'd also bear in mind that the passes along I-70 in Colorado are over 10,000' and even I-40 in New Mexico crosses the Continental Divide at over 7,000'. That said, waiting out some snow removal for a few hours along the I-90 passes in Montana could be the least of quite a number of evils.

    Safe travels,


  6. #6


    Thanks, all! I appreciate all the advice and suggestions. I think I am going to push my trip back to April, which of course doesn't mean the weather will be any better. Since this is a trip to sightsee and explore, I am considering swinging down through Utah instead, as I have always wanted to visit. But I have time to make up my mind. :)

    Foy - ignoring the fact that I am considering adding a huge 'detour', what you said makes sense, and I am trying to adhere to that for most of my trip. I do think that if I stay along the upper Unites States, I will do it on I-90.

    Midwest Michael - I guess I was more looking for insight on if I was going to see many feet of snow or thinner layers topped by a couple inches here and there, and how often snowstorms tend to occur (as this trip is part sight-seeing), but of course that, too, isn't something that anyone can predict. Like you said, I will just have to keep an eye on the forecast. Thanks again!

    BTW - after I posted, I found another thread with the same question - Seattle to CT. Oops.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Pictures taken on 3/7/08, rest area in Idaho on I-90, and the ID-MT state line (sorry about the blur, the camera focused on the windshield). That was the most snow I encountered on the whole run at the state line.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  8. #8


    Thanks GLC. Thats a lot less snow that I figured on, hmmm, thanks!

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