Nashville to Seattle: Can it be done safely in early January?
I would like to drive a new car from Nashville, TN to Seattle, WA during the first couple of weeks in January. I've never driven cross country before, let alone during winter conditions.
What is the best route? How long would it take - weather permitting? Can this be done?
Any information would be greatly appreciated.
The car is front-wheel drive.
The key to safe winter driving (other than the driving skills involved) is flexibility. No one can predict the weather on any particular route with accuracy this far in advance -- meteorologists can only predict general trends and conditions across a geographic area. And weather and road conditions change daily. My advice for planning winter trips is always this -- wait until it is time to go, see what the weather is doing at that time, and plan accordingly. There will be a safe route SOMEWHERE that will get you to your destination. If the weather is bad on I-80, it may be OK on I-90. If the weather across the entire northern plains is blizzard-like and blowing 90 mph, you'll be able to go around to the south and avoid it. In the extreme, you could use I-10 across TX, NM and AZ to southern CA and then go up I-5 through the coastal valleys and get there -- lots of extra miles and time, but you get my point.
My choice for your route would be the direct one -- use the interstates (24, 57, 64, 70, 29, 80, 84, 82 and 90). You'll pass through St Louis, Kansas City, south of Omaha, Salt Lake City, Boise, and into Seattle. It's a bit less than 2500 miles and can be driven in dry weather in 35 hours, or it can take as many as 55 hours if weather slows you down across the entire route (but it would be a very rare case if it took more than 45 hours of driving). Figure on 4 nights on the road if conditions are good.
About 4 days before you go, check in here and <a href = "http://www.roadtripamerica.com/links/conditions.htm">use the links on this site<a/> to get current road conditions -- even your nightly news will give you good information about what's happening across the country. You can get immediate help here on the forum if you have to plan an alternate route.
Can this (or any winter trip) be done safely? Absolutely. I'd go (and do) in a heartbeat! Bob
Thank you Bob. I am a little intimidated by the thought of driving in winter, but I really want to try it. Thank you for the advice.
If you want to read something on winter driving techniques, choose the Roadtrip Planning link on top of the RTA home page (on the green menu bar), and then under the section titled "Expert Advice," choose "Seasonal Tips." The first article in seasonal tips is on winter driving. It's basic, but it'll give you an orientation and a place to start. Or you could <a href = "http://www.roadtripamerica.com/travelplanning/Winter-Driving.htm">just click here<a/>. Bob
If you do decide to take I-90 into Seattle: you will have to go through a mountain pass. The local authorities can enforce traction devices on this pass if the weather is bad, which means chains or snow tires. (If it's really bad, the pass can shut down entirely, though this is rare and doesn't last too long.)
Yes, you'd be referring to Snoqualmie Pass. Know it well.