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  1. Default Washington State to South Carolina in December

    In December Im driving from Olympia, WA to Charleston, SC. I want to avoid the snow as much as possible. Can anyone suggest a route? This is my first road trip.

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


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    Simply put, trying to build a cross country route that will be snow free is simply an impossible task. Every cross country route can and does see winter weather at times, and trying to go south to avoid snow is not an idea that works in reality. What actually ends up happening is you spend more time on the road, which increases your risk of seeing bad weather, and while you might be able to avoid snow, going south can increase your risk of seeing an ice storm instead!

    Your best bet will likely be to take I-90 across Montana and the plains and cut down (which has a lower elevation than most of I-80), but since the mileage isn't much different, watch the weather forecasts and you can consider going down to Utah and picking up I-80. However, at this time there is no way of knowing which will be the best bet for your trip, and you'll have to wait until just before you leave, when you have an accurate weather forecast, to be able to make a decision based on facts.

  3. #3

    Default Run from elevation, not latitude

    Hello adrienne23,

    You'll need to be within a day or two of your departure before you'll know if a highly localized weather system will prescribe I-90 vs I-80. Absent highly localized conditions, I favor I-90 because the overall elevation is much lower than I-80 (around 2,000' lower). There are 3 passes in Montana and one "pseudo-pass" and otherwise I-90 runs in major river valleys in contrast to I-80 across Wyoming which holds +6,000' elevation for hundreds of miles and reaches 8,000' just west of Laramie.

    That said, I'd suggest running I-90 all the way to eastern SD, thence I-29 to Kansas City, I-70 to St Louis, I-64 east of St Louis to I-57, I-57 to I-24 to Nashville, I-40 east to Asheville, NC, then finally I-26 to Charleston.

    Grab yourself a 2010 US highway atlas and spend some time identifying alternate routes in the event localized conditions deteriorate. One quick example is that you can jog south anywhere east of the Badlands in South Dakota and connect to I-80 in Nebraska within 3 hours travel time, so a localized snow system at, say, Sioux Falls could be avoided. You'd also be wise to know what your overall traveling speed will be, as the mapping software generally greatly UNDERESTIMATES travel times--15 to 20% is the consensus error for Mapquest. For your 3,000 mile trip, Mapquest says 45 hours, which punches out to 67 mph average. My own recent experience, and that of many regulars here, says you'd have to run 80-85mph between fuel, food, and personal nature stops in order to average 67 mph on a beginning to end of travel day basis. I'd assume 55-57 mph and would be happy to see 58-60mph on that basis.

    You'll be more comfortable with your RoadTrip once you've put in some more study time and considered some expert opinions. You're quite wise in starting now. Ultimately, I predict snow will be several notches down the list of concerns, as one soon learns it's taken care of quickly and expertly in ID, MT, and WY.


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