Granted, the world is in flux, and long distance road trips are frowned upon at this moment in time, but the shipping needs of the country ensure that there will be people covering this kind of ground. Even without that necessity, seeing daily cross sections of the weather has its benefits. This drive will cover 5 1/2 days of mostly empty freeway, covering 2917 miles. That means our pace will be 66.3mph, which means Chicago is really going to slow us down. The days will be consumed by 530 miles of travel. Buckle up and here we go.
DAY ONE (Wednesday)
Its a gloomy day down in the Puget Sound, and it’s not going to change through tomorrow morning. The deteriorating feature that is bringing the gloom to Bremerton is going to squeeze a few flakes into the Cascadian peaks, with additional activity over northern Idaho that will dissipate into the early afternoon. The mountain tops may be obscured as we reach Montana and pass through Missoula to Clinton, but at the surface it should be dry.
DAY TWO (Friday)
We will emerge from the high country of the Rockies into the vast emptiness of Big Sky country. Sure, we’ll pass through Billings and Butte and Bozeman and a few cities that don’t begin with a B, but otherwise we will be firmly in no mans land. We are east of the Rockies, so downslope flow should give an artificial bump to the temperature early in the day, but a developing feature over te central Rockies will bring temperatures back down again. Not much for clouds, and probably nothing for precipitation on the day, which will end at exit 192, where there is a rest stop and a historical marker, but no easily accessed inhabited areas. Social distancing!
DAY THREE (Saturday)
The rest of the drive in Montana, as well as that in North Dakota will not be terribly challenging, though east of Jamestown, we might notice increasingly blustery conditions. This is owing to that big area of low pressure that we talked about in the central Rockies. It looks like it will deepen quickly and bring Minnesota and the Upper Midwest an interesting weekend. Starting not long before we wrap up the day, there might be a few flakes, and coupled with the increasing wind, it will certainly compel us to pull off the road near Ashby, Minnesota.
DAY FOUR (Sunday)
I think a heavy stripe of snow is possible between Fergus Falls and St. Cloud, Minnesota overnight, with the rest of the region blasted by wind and rain. The entire system is going to shift away from the western Great Lakes by the afternoon on Sunday, so our challenge will be driving along that first hour or so, hoping the warm spring means no snow sticks to I-94. The pavement will be wet through the Twin Cities, but should have had plenty of time to dry before we hit Wisconsin. The day will end in Poynette, north of Madison.
DAY FIVE (Monday)
The 5th day of our trip will be clearer and more well populated than the first stretch. We’ll pass Chicago, Indianapolis and Dayton on our way to Frankfort, Ohio, all under the protection of a ridge of high pressure. IT’s not going to be a warm ridge, necessarily, but it will be dry.
DAY SIX (Tuesday)
Yet another round of low pressure is developing to our south and will be shifting to the northeast during the day, intercepting our route over West Virginia. Driving Charleston can be a bit challenging, because there are no straight lines and it’s hilly, so be careful and keep both hands on the wheel. The rain will tail off for a bit as we descend into Lexington, Virginia, and will remain in our rear view as we approach Richmond. Don’t worry, though, the rain will show up later.