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  1. Default Los Angeles to Chicago early February.

    Hi everyone,

    Hoping to get some advice on how to make this trip. I understand there are two main routes for this trip either through Vegas, Denver, Nebraska, Iowa or the Southern route through Arizona, New Mexico, St.Louis. I was wondering if anyone had some experience driving either route around this time of year and what to expect as far as weather conditions go. I've been hearing various advice ranging from the North being better prepared to handling icy conditions to El Nino abnormally affecting the south.

    Also does anyone have any advice on how to break up the drive? Where are the safest places to stay, stop to eat, fill up gas? I haven't driven cross country before and don't want to have any unexpected encounters while on this trip. Just want to make it there safely.

    Thank you for all your help.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    6,936

    Default Travel safely

    Hi, and Welcome, to the Great American Roadtrip Forum.

    The stories you have heard are both correct. Right now there is no way of knowing which route will be the safest in early Feb. The only way you are going to know is to check the weather forecast leading up to your departure date, and while you are on the road. Choose the route which is least likely to see a storm.

    Meanwhile you could research the two routes you are considering. At 2000 miles this is a four day trip, taking into consideration the shorter daylight hours. It is a good idea to have a spare day up your sleeve, lest you should be caught by a surprise storm, so you can sit it out in a warm motel until the storm passes and the roads are clear again.

    At that time of the year you should be fine without booking accommodation beforehand.

    Lifey

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    without booking accommodation beforehand.
    If you are planning to stay in a college town/city (such as Flagstaff) on a weekend, make sure you book!


    Donna

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    9,358

    Default Be Prepared for Either

    As Lifey points out, there's really no way to know what the weather is going to be like along your two possible basic routes until just a day or two before you leave, and even then you won't have an accurate forecast for the eastern portion of your trip. So the best thing to do at this point is to research both possibilities so that you can choose which way to go at the very last minute and still feel as though you know what to expect. On the 'northern' route (I-15/I-70/I-76/I-80) your overnight stops would be roughly Richfield UT, Brush CO, and Des Moines IA. On the 'southern' route (I-15/I-40/I-44/I-55) they would be Hlbrook AZ, Amarillo TX, and Rolla MO. Now with the exception of Des Moines and Amarillo those are mostly small towns with some, but not a lot, of lodging choices. So you should do some homework beforehand to see what's available in those smaller towns, as well as 20-50 miles on either side of them. You don't have to make reservations, particularly since you won't know until the last minute which way you're going, but knowing what your options and alternatives are will go a long way towards calming your anxieties.

    As for your safety, hundreds of thousands of people use the Interstates each day. I seriously doubt that anywhere along your drive are you going to be out of sight of many other travelers. Similarly, typical roadside stops at freeway exits will be busy places with many people just like you frequenting the Kwik-E-Marts, Krusty Burgers, and similar retail establishments - just like at home. Indeed, remember that everywhere is somebody's home, and the same 'sixth sense' that warns you of danger in your own hometown will work just s well in theirs. As for safety while bedding down for the night, just make sure that your room is locked from the inside by a bolt, chain, or other device that can't be opened from the outside, and try to park you car in a lighted spot near the front of the motel, even if that means a slightly longer walk to your room.

    AZBuck

  5. Default

    Well....looks like a huge snowstorm is about to head exactly along the I-15/70/76/80 route. Anyone have any idea when conditions start to improve in general? Thinking about postponing my trip altogether due to the insane weather conditions as of late.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    It's an El Nino year for California and much of the western US. So it may be a matter of "okay, it looks good for the next XX days, let's go!" type of decision to be made.

    The I-15/40/44/55 or 57 is an alternative route, though Albuquerque, Amarillo and OKC can get hit by some snowy conditions as well.

    Donna

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,271

    Default

    Looks to me like if you wait till Wednesday, you will have clear sailing if you take I-40, I-44, and I-55. It's a 4 day drive, look for overnights around Holbrook AZ, Amarillo TX, and Springfield MO.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,064

    Default

    It really depends upon the exact dates you plan to be on the road.

    Typically, roads are open and traffic is flowing normally again within a day of all but largest of storms.

    Certainly, if the forecasts show that a storm is due to hit on your exact dates of travel, postponing your plans for a day or two isn't a bad idea at all - that's a big reason why we recommend having at least one extra day available when planning a winter trip.

  9. Default

    Thanks everyone for all the help. So it looks like I'll be leaving Monday. I've taken all your words into consideration and along with current weather forecasts it seems to me the best route to take would be the I-40, I-44 and I-55 route over the I-70, I-76, I-80, I-88 route. Winterstorm kayla looks like it just messed up Denver and the great plains still don't look too good with wind advisory and possible blizzard conditions this week in the great plains.

    I would fly if I could but unfortunately need to have my car there. Thinking of doing Los Angeles to Holbrook to Amarillo to Springfield and then Chicago. Thanks again everyone. Does everyone think this is the best course of action for Monday? Thanks again everyone.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Southern California
    Posts
    4,546

    Default

    Your plan looks good. I watched a bit of the weather yesterday and it was looking like clear sailing for 15/40/44/55. Holbrook and Amarillo are great stops for Day 1 and Day 2. You might find yourself going into Rolla on Day 3 (Wednesday, if you leave when you think you will). Then the Windy City on Day 4.

    Keep us posted by letting us know how your trip went.


    Donna

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