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  1. Default South Carolina to Portland Oregon Route 40!

    I'm driving from South Carolina to Portland Oregon in about a week and a half. We decided to go the southern route although longer seems like it will be safer with the weather.

    We are looking for fun places to stop on the way. We will be going primarily on 40W up through california. Also looking to see if 101N or 5N is better to go up through Cali.

    Help us find some fun stuff to do along the way!! We don't have that much money but would love to see some fun or funny things.


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

    Default misguided

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    I have to tell you, if you read around the forum a bit, you'll find your decision pretty much goes against our general advice for winter trips. Trying to stay south as if this will help you avoid winter weather is a common misconception that ignores the fact that every cross country route can and does see winter weather, and staying farther south also often means that that you're more likely to run into ice and less experienced plow crews.

    For your route specifically, I-40 frequently sees bad weather across the southern plains, and goes through significant elevation (>7,000 ft) and a few passes through New Mexico and Arizona where snow is common. You've also then have to make your way north, where I-5 takes you across several mountain passes in California and Oregon that also can and do see winter conditions. On top of that, it adds at least 350 miles to your trip, so you'll need almost one more full day on the road to complete the trip - and that full day is a day where a storm could move it!

    Sticking with US-101 does keep you along the coast, and is generally good for weather, however, most of the route north of San Francisco is a very slow going 2 lane road that will take you at least twice as long as I-5.

    If it were me, I would certainly be planning to take a more direct route through the middle/northern part of the country. I'd also be keeping an eye on the specific forecasts, and then deciding to take I-70, I-80, or even I-90 across the plains based on which looks best during the specific times that you are traveling. Even in the worst case, you might have to sit and wait a day for conditions to improve, but if that happens, you're still no worse off than if you'd taken an extra day to drive a southern route.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Albuquerque, New Mexico

    Default I-40 weather

    Hi, Emily.

    Quote Originally Posted by emilymav123
    Help us find some fun stuff to do along the way!!
    You can find some suggestions for things to do in Albuquerque/New Mexico on this thread and here.

    Quote Originally Posted by emilymav123
    We decided to go the southern route although longer seems like it will be safer with the weather.
    You might see good weather on I-40, or, as Michael said, you could encounter cold weather and snow somewhere along the way. You can click on the maps below to see US annual snowfall, snowfall in the Southwest US, and an elevation profile of I-40 across Arizona and New Mexico.

    US Annual Mean Snowfall

    I-40 across AZ and NM

    Arizona and New Mexico snowfall

    A cold front will be pushing south into New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma later this week. Today’s weather forecasts are a good example of how the weather can change from good to not-so-good in a very short time.

    Amarillo, TX graphic forecast

    Albuquerque, NM graphic
    Flagstaff, AZ graphic

    NWS Amarillo, TX 7-day forecast 1-4-2010
    NWS Tucumcari, NM 7-day
    NWS Santa Rosa, NM 7-day
    NWS Albuquerque, NM 7-day
    NWS Gallup, NM 7-day
    NWS Flagstaff, AZ 7-day

    You definitely want to pay attention to the weather forecasts for Flagstaff, AZ. They get quite a bit of snow at times, as you can see here:

    Flagstaff, AZ graphic Dec. 22, 2009

    Flagstaff, AZ graphic Dec. 7, 2009 – lots of snow.
    Flagstaff, AZ snowfall totals Dec. 7-8, 2009
    Southwest US snowfall map Dec. 7-8, 2009

    Have fun on your roadtrip! Hopefully, the weather will be fine. :-)

  4. #4

    Default I-40 closed at NC-TN line

    Hi Emily,

    It's not clear in your post where you plan to access I-40, but most of SC would come up to Asheville on I-26.

    The problem is that I-40 is closed from around mile 23 back to inside TN. A Rockslide closed it weeks ago and it's to remain close until around March 2010.

    I second and third the advice about not assuming I-40 will be better. Adding CA freeway miles in exchange for "better" I-40 miles can be a false victory if relative safety is the goal.


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