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  1. Default Detroit to San Francisco

    Moving out to San Fran to start work in a couple of weeks. Would love to drive out on I-80. But I don't want to get caught in any snow on that route considering I have a rear-wheel-drive sports sedan. So I was planning on going south to OKC and catching I-40 into CA, then up 5 to SF.

    Any issues with this route? I know there's potential for snow in the mountains around Albuquerque and Flagstaff. But I presume the risk is less than I-80.

    AAA's suggested route was to go even farther south into Texas to Houstan, then across to Phoenix and up to LA to catch 5.

    But that's a pretty long detour...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
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    Green County, Wisconsin
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    13,063

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I'd say your assumption that the risk for seeing snow on I-40 being less is one that really is false. Not only can they still see plenty of bad weather, often times you're dealing with ice instead of snow and road crews that aren't as adept at dealing with bad roads.

    I'd also say that AAA is providing some really bad advice by directing you down to I-10, which is not immune to bad winter by any means either. The only thing it would really do is add at least 2 full extra days to your drive, which are just days where you could see bad weather, and less extra time available if a storm develops.

    There's simply no way of knowing what weather you might see, until you are close enough to your trip to have accurate weather forecasts (as in a day or two in advance.) If the weather looks bad on I-80, and it looks good on I-40, then I might consider that option, however, you would be adding about a half day to your trip, so I'd have to be very confident I was going to see perfect conditions farther south before I'd make that detour.

  3. Default

    I'm planning on leaving this weekend. Forecasts show little to no snow on either 80 or 40. So not sure which way I should go.

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

    Default

    If there is little to no snow forecast on I-80, then do you have a reason for adding 300 miles to your trip by going down to I-40?

    If you want to head that direction because there's something you want to see or do along I-40, then I'd say go for it. But if you are simply trying to avoid bad weather, and the forecast looks good, shortest is always best.

  5. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Midwest Michael View Post
    If there is little to no snow forecast on I-80, then do you have a reason for adding 300 miles to your trip by going down to I-40?

    If you want to head that direction because there's something you want to see or do along I-40, then I'd say go for it. But if you are simply trying to avoid bad weather, and the forecast looks good, shortest is always best.
    Because I've read of fast-changing and unpredictable weather along 80 through Wyoming, Utah, and Nevada. And more people have said to avoid 80 compared to 40. I figure both 40 and 80 have their dangers. I'm not too concerned with 300 additional miles. And I won't be stopping to sight-see. I just want to get to SF the quickest and safest way.

    I'm seeing some light snow around Thursday of next week along some parts of 80 (SLC, Cheyyenne, Rock Springs). And some light snow along 40 around that time as well. So I guess it's a crap shoot.

    I can't put chains on my car, either.

  6. Default

    Just spoke to a friend who has done the route many times on 80, 70 and 40 in the winter. And he said "definitely 80." He said 40 gets more ice. And 80 gets more snow, but they clear it faster due to it being a major truck route. So I guess I'll give 80 a try. If I hit bad weather, I'll just pull into a hotel for the night.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
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    Green County, Wisconsin
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    Default

    Put simply, if an interstate highway is so bad that you'd need chains, most of the time you're better off waiting for plows to do their job anyway.

    But I say your friend's advice is pretty much on the money. Hopefully the weather gods will continue to be on your side, and you'll have a smooth and easy trip.

  8. Default

    Lucked out with the weather. Made it to Wendover, Nevada. I don't see what the big deal was. Everywhere I read said this route was crazy. It was pretty much FLAT the whole way. There was one 2-3 mile stretch coming into SLC that had some fun curves coming down through the mountains. But it wasn't anything that I haven't driven on in other parts of the country. The roads were dry and it was sunny. But even if there were snow, it wouldn't have been a big deal at low speeds. I've driven on some much more crazy roads through much larger mountains in other parts of the world in white-out-blizzard conditions and the people in those areas didn't even make much of a fuss about it. Not sure why everyone on the internet says I-80 is nuts.

    The way people talk about it, I was expecting something much worse.

    I should hit SF tomorrow night.
    Last edited by FourT6and2; 01-07-2013 at 06:43 PM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
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    13,063

    Default what you missed

    You've experienced what we say here all the time, in winter, the vast majority of the time conditions are perfectly clear and good for travel.

    Having said that, I think you might now be a bit overconfident about what I-80 can throw at drivers in a storm. The issue with I-80 has never been twists and turns. In fact, quite the opposite. The issue with I-80 is that it is flat, but at an elevation above 7000 feet for much of the trip across Wyoming. That means the high potential for snow and ice because of the elevation, and strong winds because it is so flat. Wind, snow, and ice and quickly make for white-out visability, and ice-slick road conditions that are impassable at any speed.

    Again, most of the time, travel is fine. But if a storm kicks up, I-80 can be a beast.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    10,748

    Default It's all about the 'here and now'.

    The lesson here is what Michael mentioned in his first reply, assume nothing with regards to the weather and wait until you have an up to date weather forecast. As you said yourself, you "lucked out with the weather" which is great news, but the same goes for those that told you how bad it was, they didn't luck out. Reports rest on individual experiences of the journey at the exact time they were travelled, which has no bearing on what that might be the next time. People are much more likely to talk about a bad experience than a good one and so the 'Internet myths' begin, go south to avoid poor weather. Nope, check the forecast !

    Glad it worked out for you !

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