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  1. Default Winter drive from Connecticut to JBLM Seattle Washington

    Good morning. I got orders for my new assignment at JBLM. I was authorized in my orders to drive 2 vehicles but given the condition we plan on shipping them and renting a 4wd instead. We have a 5 month old and we are concerned for our safety in the trip. Specifically, the road conditions to drive during 1st week of March. We have been In other forums and so far we get a 50/50 answer on driving vs taking the train. Some soldiers say the drive is doable as long as you drive careful, others say avoid it like the plague. The army only allows a max of 400 miles per day to drive. Obviously, we will drive more and sleep on hotels along the way. Any help would be most appreciated as we are nearing our report date and have to make a decision soon.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,711

    Default

    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    The good news is that thousands of people drive from coast to coast every day of the year, including in winter, and including across the northern tier of the country.

    The other good news is that you are being given plenty of time, and in winter travel, time is more important than anything else. At 400 miles a day, you're being given 7 or 8 days for this drive? We recommend limiting yourself to 500-600 miles a day - which means you've got 2 or 3 extra days to work with, and 2 or 3 days where you can stop and wait out a storm if need be. That is more than enough in nearly all cases.

    The bad news is that no one can tell you what the weather and road conditions might be 2 weeks from now. All you can do is keep an eye on the forecasts and stay flexible, both to avoid a storm if one is in the forecast and to pull off and wait if conditions do deteriorate.

    I will say the generic advice many people will give of "go south" is actually pretty horrible advice as all it does is adds time to your travels, reduces the extra time you have if you need to wait out a storm, and provides very little protection from winter weather (as the current problems in Texas should be a good reminder of). Going south also means places that are less ready to deal with snow if they get it, and often can get ice storms instead of snowstorms, and I'll take driving in snow over ice any day of the week. The general routes you should be looking at for this trip are either ones based on I-80 and I-90 - with the more northern I-90 actually often being preferred across the Rockies, due to easier travel through Montana vs. the High Plains of Wyoming.

    I will also say that I would not necessarily recommend renting a 4WD vehicle, especially if you aren't already comfortable driving in snow. When traveling in winter weather on the interstates, the most important thing is the ability to stop - and 4WD does nothing to help you in that regard. Instead, it often gives people a false sense of confidence which can lead to crashes. 4WD is very helpful if you're in a spot that's just got several new inches of snow, and the plows haven't been out on the road yet - but when talking about long distance travel, the better answer is to simply stay put until the plows have gone through, especially since the Interstates are usually the first roads to be cleared during and after a storm.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    10,086

    Default

    I can make a suggestion for a route to take. This route avoids the majority of tolls and large metro areas, and keeps you away from possible lake effect snow. It's also 100% Interstate highway which will have the best maintenance in bad weather. It's about 200 miles longer than the shortest route. It's approximately 3150 miles from Hartford to Seattle via this route.

    Take I-84 out of CT to Scranton PA.
    Take I-81 to I-80 to Youngstown OH.
    Take I-76 through Akron to I-71 to Columbus OH.
    Use the I-270 bypass around the NW side to I-70 to Indianapolis.
    Take the I-465 bypass around the S side to I-74 to Peoria IL.
    Take the I-474 bypass around Peoria back to I-74 to I-80 to just east of Omaha.
    Take I-880 to I-29 to Sioux Falls SD.
    Take I-90 to Seattle.

    If the weather is decent, this can be done in 6 days.

  4. Default

    Thank you so much for your information. I am now more confused than ever and overly concerned on which route to take. Someone suggested this, " Personally, I would plan on driving via St Louis - KC - Denver- Salt Lake City. Getting across Kansas/Nebraska was my biggest concern due to the potential for bad winds, snow and ice. Once you get to Denver, you can check the weather and go via 70 or 80. When you get to Boise, you can choose from going via 84-I5 or north and across the mountains on 90."

    To which someone else replied, "I do NOT recommend doing 1-90 in Idaho, if you can stay south do it. I tried doing this pass last year to get back to MN for a funeral, after two days stranded my sister and I caught a flight out of Spokane. Perhaps I’m just a baby about driving THOSE mountains in winter... but they’re scary!!"

    I'm not sure what to do now...

    - - - Updated - - -

    Thank you so much I will definitely take this route into consideration. We are posting this question in another forum only to cross refence Information. This was a comment we got, "So we had weather when we were driving when we got to Montana and we ended up driving faster than the storm to get through. We never had an issue getting hotels covered and we’d book them the day of. We also stayed flexible. If weather or something was getting bad we could change plans. Honestly a lot of the highways in Montana are protected by mountains so driving wasn’t too bad. If you’re going across the Great Plains you’ll be way more exposes"

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    10,086

    Default

    I-90 is almost always an easier drive across the Great Plains and Rockies than either I-80 or I-70. That's why I suggested you head north on I-29 to get to I-90.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    10,060

    Default Once is Not Always

    I would be VERY hesitant to use anecdotal stories (e.g.: "I tried doing this pass last year...Perhaps I’m just a baby about driving THOSE mountains in winter... but they’re scary.") That's one person's experience on one particular road on one particular day in one particular year. It is no basis for making a decision for your own trip. Period.

    You've already gotten the best advice anyone will ever be able to give you for a trip such as the one you'll be making. Namely - Take the shortest all-Interstate route you can. Interstates are kept open when other roads are closed. They are, after all, officially designated The Dwight D. Eisenhower System of Interstate and Defense Highways. The time you save by using such a route then allows you to simply sit out any inclement weather in a warm and dry room while the road crews do their job.

    AZBuck

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Ft. Collins, CO.
    Posts
    392

    Default

    The panic about Lookout Pass doesn't take into account that the I-90 route is on average lower than I-80 and just has Lookout Pass and 4th July Summit which are pretty short pitches up and down where you get the elevation gain and loss over with rather quickly.

    I do Colorado to Seattle every Christmas (except for Covid) and greatly prefer the I-90 route to I-80 for the above reason. Another reason is that the I-80/I-84 route goes thru the Blue Mountains in Oregon. Oregon has a 65 mph speed limit and the Blues are pretty big repeating roller coasters of trouble in slick conditions.

  8. Default

    Thank you.

  9. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post
    I would be VERY hesitant to use anecdotal stories (e.g.: "I tried doing this pass last year...Perhaps I’m just a baby about driving THOSE mountains in winter... but they’re scary.") That's one person's experience on one particular road on one particular day in one particular year. It is no basis for making a decision for your own trip. Period.

    You've already gotten the best advice anyone will ever be able to give you for a trip such as the one you'll be making. Namely - Take the shortest all-Interstate route you can. Interstates are kept open when other roads are closed. They are, after all, officially designated The Dwight D. Eisenhower System of Interstate and Defense Highways. The time you save by using such a route then allows you to simply sit out any inclement weather in a warm and dry room while the road crews do their job.

    AZBuck
    You make a solid point regarding the interstate usage and using one user's experience as the sole basis from which to base this trip in. Is all too easy to be confounded with unique stories and deem them convention. Thank you for your insight. Did you mean the route GLC suggested? If yes time to break out the paper map and plan accordingly because im not so good with technology i.e, Google maps, so I can reroute using the suggested routes provided by GLC.

  10. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by noFanofCB View Post
    The panic about Lookout Pass doesn't take into account that the I-90 route is on average lower than I-80 and just has Lookout Pass and 4th July Summit which are pretty short pitches up and down where you get the elevation gain and loss over with rather quickly.

    I do Colorado to Seattle every Christmas (except for Covid) and greatly prefer the I-90 route to I-80 for the above reason. Another reason is that the I-80/I-84 route goes thru the Blue Mountains in Oregon. Oregon has a 65 mph speed limit and the Blues are pretty big repeating roller coasters of trouble in slick conditions.
    So far the concensus seems to be i90. I think the route suggested to use all interstates is spot on. This feed has been a trove full of insight and excellent knowledge. Thank you.

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