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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Ft. Collins, CO.
    Posts
    303

    Default Checking weather forecasts

    When folks ask about routes to take our standard response here in RTA is to tell you to look at the weather and make your decision then.
    This might not be specific enough. How do you look at the weather? TV? Broadcast radio? Newspaper? Weather Channel?

    I like to use aviation weather forecasting resources which also helps predict what will be happening in 12,18,24, 36 and greater intervals.

    US NOAA Webpage for surface weather conditions: http://www.aviationweather.gov/progchart/sfc

    Use the >> arrows to step the forecast forward to see the expected movements of fronts and precipitation bands.

    Tenday weather website is also useful but is a commercial site with ads so I won't link it here.

  2. #2

    Default Good topic

    When I do multi-day trips, particularly in winter, I'll lay out some primary cities for each day's travel and start looking at Weather.com local forecasts for each starting at between 5 and 10 days out. I don't find much forecasting significantly greater than 5 days to be very accurate, but once you get down to 3-5 days out, it's usually pretty good.

    For example, on our July-August 2015 trip to Montana, the outbound leg was cut-and-dried in terms of overnight stops primarily because we needed to be in western MT by a certain afternoon. Accordingly, I started looking at forecasts for Nashville, St Louis, KC, Rapid City, and Dillon, MT. I started looking at Nashville at the long end of the pre-departure window, St Louis and KC the next day, and such.

    In winter, the forecasts are more important for those traveling in the northern tier and/or in the mountains. The speed of travel by weather fronts can be hard for forecasters to nail down, but they still do pretty well within a handful of days out from the dates of travel. It's fun to sort out the timing a west-to-east trip to stay out in front of weather or to surf the wave in between fronts, which is really sort of two ways of saying the same thing--when you're running from one you are ordinarily chasing its predecessor.

    Foy

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,545

    Default

    If possible, we use a few different methods. Our first and foremost is always The Weather Channel's app on our smartphones. This is followed by TV weather broadcasts on local channels. If we run into weird-seeming weather while we are actually on the road, and the CB antenna is mounted, we'll find one of the NOAA channels locally and see what's going on. If in a motel already, we will turn on the TV there. We do carry a battery-operated weather radio, just in case we are in a motel and the power goes out (such as almost happened to us in Burlington, CO, about 3 years ago).

    We don't do too much travel in the "northern tier" during the "winter months", with the exception of a fly-drive to see our daughter and her family last November, and a one-way drive in a U-Haul truck about 4 years ago. But we'd use all of the above any season of the year!


    Donna

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Ft. Collins, CO.
    Posts
    303

    Default

    Thanks for responding - everyone has a favorite way to do this so the more variety the better.
    (I don't have a smartphone so don't know any of those tricks)

    I commute 50 miles each way for work which makes daily weather awareness important to assure drama-free travel.

    I've found that sampling several different weather sources such as local TV news stations to be useful for comparison purposes because when they all agree on timing and precip amounts you can be pretty confident that's what's going to happen. When they disagree on timing and precip amounts then you'd best be prepared for the worst case and keep a close watch as things develop because they don't really know.

    In one storm a few years back I arrived at work at 0700 in light snow. I watched the forecasts and the weather radar and left for home about 1015. I barely made it home. One hill on the interstate, which had one lane blocked by 5 chainless and stuck trucks, closed 5 minutes behind my passage as yet another trucker tried the remaining open lane and got stuck (heard on the scanner). The bug screen across my radiator packed solid with wet snow and the car was close to overheating (ran the heater on HIGH with an eye on the temp gage).
    My officemate, who left 20 minutes later than I did and only had 15 miles to get home, became stranded in a line of cars which couldn't move. All those folks were ultimately rescued from their cars and taken to a shelter by authorities. Brian had some friends with 4WD come to the shelter and take him home. His car, and all the others, was towed from the road.

    Roads are advertised as being "all weather." Compared to gravel, dirt, and mud of the distant past they are nearly miraculous. But there are times when it's best to just not be out there.
    Having weather awareness tools available and using them to their fullest can be the difference between having a trip with some interesting stories about hanging out in a cheap motel watching TV nd having a trip more like the Donner Party had.

    Anyone else?

  5. #5

    Default

    I'll chip in... We did a road trip this past summer, June into July, and visited six national parks in thirteen days. I checked the weather in advance for the 10-day forecast in major cities we were going to pass through, and we did almost perfect on the first ten days of the trip. It was the eleventh to thirteenth days that went sour, but once you're on the road, there isn't much you can do about it. We drove the entire length of Missouri on I-70 in a downpour so bad that we had to pull off the road several times.

    Anyone taking a road trip that lasts more than a week is at the weather's mercy once under way. That said, I do like the different sources that NoFanofCB cited for getting accurate long-range forecasts. Being a retired airline employee, I never thought of using aviation forecasts. My rule of thumb is that once we're on the road, we'll deal with whatever weather we get, but we certainly try not to travel too much between November and May.

    Good forum, and this needs to be moved to the 'Gear Up' section on travel aids and tips.
    Roadhawk

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Ft. Collins, CO.
    Posts
    303

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Kline View Post

    Good forum, and this needs to be moved to the 'Gear Up' section on travel aids and tips.
    I posted here because this is where the "which is the better route for weather " questions are posed. Moderator's choice of course but that's my reasoning. Perhaps a sticky as well?

  7. #7

    Default

    I recently posted a link for looking up historical averages which is useful in planning (example of Yellowstone NP and also includes the 10-day forecast):
    http://www.intellicast.com/Local/His...ation=USWY0183

    This link provides a bird's eye view of the 48 States. You can check several different elements such as weather, temperatures, precipitation, etc. Includes a "play" button or an element to click or drag across a 7-day period. Or, zoom into a specific region.
    http://digital.weather.gov/

    Similar to the the weather tool above this one increments in 3-hr blocks. Very useful for drilling down for weather specifics such as rain.
    http://graphical.weather.gov/sectors/conus.php#tabs

    One more planner:
    http://www.weather.com/maps/planner

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,545

    Default

    Weather issues that have changed plans over the years:

    Traveling with my parents and brother in a Suburban and travel trailer, we were driving down the Oregon coast when we were stopped by a road block. The policemen politely said that there was a really bad storm coming and everyone was to move inland. For RV's, they gave the locations of several campgrounds and RV parks that would be a good place to hunker down for the night. Dad pulled into one that was about 25 miles inland. We had no hookups that night, but we were safe. There were winds, rain, and it did storm, but we were happy with this "free campground", run by a lumber mill.

    Back in 2014, we were in central Indiana when our cell phones screamed. Evidently we were close enough to a tornado zone. This is in my 2014 field report.

    For a third one, it's more humorous than anything. I had taken the 5W out for the weekend, one April, in the mountains east of San Diego near Campo. My daughters were teenagers at the time, and we had our dog along. We had already pulled in for the weekend, got comfortable, unhitched, etc. Saturday was a blast, with lovely weather. On Sat evening, the managers of the RV park suggested that we might want to put the dog in for the night (she usually slept in her crate outside) and let the faucets drip all night, as it was supposed to be cold overnight. When we woke up the next morning, I went to let the dog out - she took one look outside and turned around to go further back inside the trailer. The world was WHITE! I exclaimed, "OH MY GOSH, SNOW!" I hadn't seen my daughters get up from a sound sleep so fast. I think they were dressed in about 2 minutes flat, and managed to coax the dog outside with them. Fortunately for me, the snow melted fast enough.

    Which brings me to the last weather story (for now): we lost one storage place for our RV when my husband was deployed, and I had contracted for another one outside of San Diego, also in the mountains. I had hitched up by myself a couple of times, but I had never towed all by myself. My mom and dad came over from Arizona to help. Mom stayed with the girls, and Dad and I moved the rig. Dad wasn't all that familiar with the handling of a 5W (his rigs were always TT's), so I knew a bit. But we were both amazed when we were on I-8 heading east and suddenly, here was snow coming down at our windshield! Dad hadn't towed his TT in a snowstorm in over 30 years, and neither of us had ever towed a 5W, much less in a snowstorm! Fortunately for me, the snow didn't last very long, and it was dry when we pulled into the new storage place. (Backing that trailer is a whole different story, on my first backup. But let's just say, no vehicles or fences were damaged. Just nerves.)


    Donna

  9. #9

    Default Learn Something New Every Day

    I had taken the 5W out for the weekend,
    Donna, I have to admit that I was puzzled by your reference to a 5W, so I did a search for it and initially came up with a motor oil. So then I put on my thinking cap and substituted 5 wheeler, and bingo, I got pictures of trailers that are hauled by truck. Still curious as to why they are called 5th wheel, I asked that next and learned that the hitch resembles (vaguely) the spare tire that might be kept in the bed of the pick up.

    Now wiser, though no more inclined to join your ranks - I prefer hotel/motel with hot tub where possible - I do feel a lot more educated in my old age. I'll never have to wonder about 5W again.

    Harry

  10. #10

    Default Fifth wheel

    The flat plate through which a trailer's pin fits and upon which the trailer's flat plate rides, supporting the trailer's weight over the rear axle of the tow vehicle, lubricated by generous amounts of grease in the case of tractor-trailers, has been called a 5th wheel for as long as I can remember. The memory of the mechanics at my grandfather's trucking company holding paint can sized tubs of grease in one hand while dipping their other bare hand into the tub to spread it out over the tractor's fifth wheel remain with me 55 years after first watching the process at age 5 in 1960.

    I will suggest it's likely the term was coined in the days when tandem-axle over-the-road tractors were uncommon or unheard of. The single-axle tractors would thus have 4 wheels (albeit the rear wheels being tandem themselves). The diameter of the connection/load-bearing plate was similar to the diameter of one of the wheels, so it was called the 5th wheel.

    Foy
    Junior-Assistant Mechanic and All-Around Nuisance (and the Boss's only grandson), Reliable Tank Lines, Inc., Raleigh, NC and Portsmouth, VA, 1960-1965.

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