Saginaw, Michigan to Dubuque, Iowa

We’re off on… what’s this, a single day road trip? Well, this journey will take the better part of the day, covering 469 miles of pure Midwest. The pace in the end will be 62.3mph, slowed, as you might expect, by the city of Chicago.

Saginaw, Michigan

Man, it is hot in the Upper Midwest, and some of that heat is going to spread eastward. And don’t even get me started on the humidity. Air conditioners will be needed, particularly after we get away from the westerly flow off of Lake Michigan. Chicago westward through Illinois and into Deubuque will be blazing hot. The moisture is currently penned west of the Mississippi and north into Wisconsin, and there isn’t really a great reason to expect it to get unleashed terribly far from where it is right now. It will probably bleed south and east a bit, precariously close to our route, but all that will mean is an even more uncomfortable walk to the rest rooms at pit stops. Dubuque is going to be extremely sweaty tomorrow afternoon.

Dubuque, Iowa

Napa, California to Johnstown, Pennsylvania

Cross country road tripping is the name of the game today, as we start on a 5 day journey. It is a 2,607 mile voyage which we will cover at a pace of 68.6mph, which is indicative of all the freeway time we are spending. That means a 549 mile a day pace for days 1-4, with a shorter drive to finish things off thanks to our blistering pace.

DAY ONE (Friday)

Napa, California

Low pressure over the Gulf of Alaska is pretty much just hanging out in place, and a cold front is becoming mostly stationary in the Pacific Northwest. This is all good news for people chugging along I-80, as we will be on Friday. It will make it hard to leave Napa, though, but driving through Sacramento and Reno will be a bit easier. Our drive will take us to Death Star Valley. Ope, sorry, Star Wars fan. That should be the Deeth/Starr Valley exit in northeastern Nevada.

DAY TWO (Saturday)
The drive through the west will take its typical winding path through Salt Lake City then continue on into Wyoming. There isn’t a lot going on… BUT WAIT! There is a hint that the monsoon might be getting organized by this weekend. If that happens, there is an extremely remote chance at an isolated storm popping up over south central Wyoming by the end of the day. We’ll end the day at Cooper Cove, north of Laramie for our Saturday night stop.

DAY THREE (Sunday)
Lee troughing is going to be fast in developing over central Nebraska, ready to turn towards the Upper Midwest, but it won’t tap into much moisture until it is closer to the Great Lakes. Surface high pressure will be in rapid pursuit, with some convergence and resultant thunderstorms over the Panhandle late in the day. We will already be in Ashland, about 30 miles before Omaha, when the day is through.

DAY FOUR (Monday)
The next big storm is going to be brewing in the northern High Plains by the beginning of next week. A warm front may be expressed with a few spotty showers from Omaha to Cedar Rapids, but it certainly won’t be a cumbersome delay or terribly heavy precipitation. Dry air — well, rain free air — will be the name of the game for the rest of the drive to the Granger/Mishawaka area on the east side of South Bend, Indiana. It’s going to be hot and humid, so finding a place with a pool, or at least functioning air conditioning, will be a priority.

DAY FIVE (Tuesday)
Expect to finish strong, especially through Ohio, where it should be mostly cloudless. There will be a line pretty near the border with Pennsylvania where clouds will become more likely. Pittsburgh and Johnstown look to be in a bit of a damming situation, which means temperatures are going to be noticeably cooler than those that we will arrive from.

Johnstown, Pennsylvania

Oxnard, California to Tyler, Texas

It seems as though any trip through California usually takes a full week, so I am delighted that our trip this weekend is only a 3 day trek across the desert southwest. The pace of the 1,597 mile journey will be about 68mph, owing in large part to I-10. This will give us almost 544 miles a day, with a slightly shorter day to end things on Sunday. Memorial Weekend is a good time for a road trip.

DAY ONE (Friday)

Oxnard
Oxnard, California

It’s fire season already in southern California. Despite copious snow and fairly persistent rain patterns through the winter, it wasn’t enough to break the drought that has plagued the southwest for a long time now. While there is a fire near Laguna Beach, the route through southern California will be free of fire, though pollution is a bit high in the LA Basin. The better threat for new fires under the dry high pressure will be in northern Arizona towards the 4 Corners. Despite the drought, day 1 looks good to Tucson.

DAY TWO (Saturday)
Low pressure will start to develop in the High Plains of Colorado this weekend, which will likely fan the flames of the Black Fire in New Mexico, which will make the route from Deming, New Mexico to Pecos, Texas a little hazy. The fire may advance towards our route on Saturday, though it won’t come anywhere near it. The prevailing winds will only make life grayer, however. We will make it past Pecos to Pyote for the day.

DAY THREE (Sunday)
Low pressure is going to track to the northeast after developing in the Colorado prairies. It’s not going to be able to pull any moisture north, at least not enough that the atmosphere will destabilize in Texas, even as a weak cold front tries to move through. Eventually, it will turn into an inactive dry line west of Dallas-Fort Worth. This will pen any smoke from filtering eastward, but showers and storms are not in the forecast for the rest of the way to Tyler.

Tyler, Texas

Duluth, Minnesota to Kokomo, Indiana

Before I got the map for this trip, I wondered if it would take us through the Twin Cities or the Upper Peninsula, and it turns out, it was neither. It’s going to be a one day trip that takes us 627 miles and right through Chicago. The route through rural Wisconsin, followed by the decidedly not rural Chicago will slow us down to a 61mph pace, but that’s ok because we are getting it all done in one day.

Duluth, Minnesota

I found what might be the least attractive angle of Duluth I could, just because the intent is to leave this fine city for Indiana. We will be between systems as we set forth tomorrow, which makes for a much easier drive. A warm front lifting north ahead of the next feature coming eastward will touch off some late showers or convention (probably convection, frankly) in northern Wisconsin. We will likely steer clear of the wet weather before it initiates, and will only deal with a hot, stuffy traffic jam late in the afternoon in Chicago, before we trundle on in to Kokomo.

Kokomo, Indiana

Spokane, Washington to Rocky Mount, North Carolina

We are traveling cross country this weekend, taking a solid 5 days through the northern US on our trek. It’s a 2,633 mile journey between the two cities in question, which we will do at a pace of 67.5mph. We’ll move quicker in the plains and slower through the mountains (Rockies AND Appalachians). All told, the goal will be 540 miles a day, at least through days 1-4.

DAY ONE (Friday)

Spokane, Washington

What a grimy, miserable pattern that is setting up in the northern US. It’s very busy, and it looks to be that way when we set out on Friday. A cold front will move ashore overnight, and light rain with valley fog will dot the northern Rockies through Idaho and about as far as Frenchtown, Montana, which is west of Missoula. If that wasn’t frustrating enough, the massive complex bringing severe storms to the Upper Midwest will rotate moisture and instability from the northeast — the northeast! — which will press up against the Front Range in Montana, bringing isolated showers and storms to a typically drier stretch of Big Sky Country. Isolated storms are possible, and overcast is likely from Missoula, through Butte and Bozeman and indeed on to Billings, where we will reside for the night. There is a silver lining, I guess, finding a large town to stop in for the night in Montana!

DAY TWO (Saturday)
OK, so there is some good news. The low in the north central US is lifting almost due north, which is allowing some more settled weather to develop in the middle of the country. This will leave a pretty good day of driving as we finish the drive in Montana, cut across Wyoming and finally enter South Dakota. We’ll navigate our way to Kimball, in the middle of the state, and call it a day.

DAY THREE (Sunday)
The good fortune will continue on Sunday, as winds will turn west-northwesterly behind an emerging cold front in the eastern Great Lakes. The big system, now in Canada, will start hustling off to the east, towards Hudson Bay by Sunday morning. A weak little trough will develop in the wake of the front, and could set off some very vague showers and storms in southeastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin by the late afternoon, but I would expect dry conditions in the Madison area as we end our weekend.

DAY FOUR (Monday)
That little post frontal trough is expected to move it about our pace on Saturday. Fortunately, it won’t really get active at any point during the day, but particularly early on as we try to get through Milwaukee and Chicago. Clouds and little bit of light rain will become increasingly likely late in the day as we bound through southern Ohio. We’ll make it to Jackson, which arrives just before the Ohio River and a border with West Virginia.

DAY FIVE (Tuesday)
All this worrying, and it looks like it won’t shake out too badly. Precipitation will be well off shore by the time we traverse Appalachia and settle into the Carolina Plain. Off shore breezes will even work to scour out the threat of morning fog that tends not to stay confined to the AM. Of course, it looks active again in the High Plains as we arrive in Rocky Mount, but maybe that is why we went to North Carolina instead of there?

Rocky Mount, North Carolina By Harris Walker – https://www.flickr.com/photos/harriswalkerphotography/3342646285/in/album-72157615074534836/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=61707633

Baltimore, Maryland to Racine, Wisconsin

Spring is supposed to be here. Really, it should be right around the corner. Why not drive to the lake? Specifically, this day and a half trip will cover the 776 miles between Chesapeake Bay and southeast Wisconsin. We will make the journey at a pace of 60.3mph. Thanks side streets and Chicago! The first day drive will cover 482 miles, leaving that Chicago chunk for day two.

DAY ONE (Thursday)

Baltimore, Maryland

The cold air in pursuit of an offshore cold front is going to cycle through New England and the mid-Atlantic tomorrow, likely pressing some mid and low level clouds through the undulating terrain of Pennsylvania. Light rain looks to be suppressed by local high pressure, and moisture is getting drawn towards a developing lee trough. Cloudy and cool, then, until we get to the toledo area and call it a night.

DAY TWO (Friday)

A warm front will be working it’s way north throughout the day on Friday, starting, I suppose, even on Thursday. Moisture will be penned closer to the Mississppi and the Illinois-Missouri border as we pass through Chicago, though a DEFCON 1 rain shower can’t be ruled out as we navigate the Windy City. It’s going to rain this weekend in Racine, but it probably won’t be when we arrive.

Anniston, Alabama to Joplin, Missouri

It’s time for another road trip. We’re just going to take one day to head from Alabama to Missouri, crossing the Mississippi River and trying to dodge rain drops. It’s a 659 mile journey that we will cover at a pace of about 64.3mph, which is slowed by Memphis and not spending as much time as we would like on arterial interstates.

Anniston, Alabama

High pressure will be in retreat over the southern US, but it will still be comfortably in place in northern Alabama and Mississippi tomorrow. Dry skies with mostly sunny conditions will guide us through Birmingham and Tupelo, but an organizing system in Louisiana will start to kick some clouds north by the time we reach Memphis. Don’t be surprised if there are a few spits of rain starting around Hardy, Arkansas, which may linger the rest of the way through the Missouri Ozarks. North of the highest terrain, from Springfield to Joplin, it should be a bit drier, but the chances for rain are certainly not going to be zero.

Joplin, Missouri

Tucson, Arizona to Muskegon, Michigan

It’s time for everyone to head for home, all of you spring breakers and snow birds. Our early April drive will take us from beautiful Tucson up to the eastern shores of Lake Michigan, where I promise lake effect season is almost done. It is a 3 1/2 day trek, covering 1904 miles of the heartland. The three full days will involve 544 miles of travel at 68mph. Nice round numbers. Let’s hope the whole day trip is as accommodating.

DAY ONE (Sunday)

Tucson, Arizona

A little clipper of a system is organizing in the Montana foothills right now, and it will move towards the Upper Midwest through the day on Sunday. Something to keep an eye on for later in the day and later in the week. It will likely induce some cross wind from the south, especially later in the day as a cold front organizes through central Colorado. Fortunately, we will be enchanted by New Mexico without any other weather concerns on Sunday. We will make it to the ghost town of Cuervo, just past our entrance to I-40 east of Santa Rosa, New Mexico.

DAY TWO (Monday)
As the tail of the cold front to our north gets mixed up with hotter, more humid air in Texas and Oklahoma, it will start to churn up a bit more activity. We will have a dry time through the Texas Panhandle, but nearly the entire stretch of our drive in Oklahoma will be under the threat of showers and storms. Fortunately, we will be on the cold side of the feature by the time activity really gets going, but it will still be wet, with greater coverage northeast from Oklahoma City. We will get to Claremore, just past Tulsa, before we call it a night.

DAY THREE (Tuesday)
Tuesday’s drive will be a master class in timing. Precipitation will blossom in the southern Mississippi Valley, shifting towards the southern Atlantic states. We will probably catch a bit of the back end of the system as we pass through Illinois, but by and large, we will avoid any significant weather on Tuesday. We dodged that system! Meanwhile, yet another feature is emerging in the northern Plains, bigger and stronger than the last one. This is going to start sliding southeast, robbed of some moisture by the preceding storm, but gnarly enough in its own way. This next storm will arrive in Odell, Illinois, a couple of hours after we do. Bullets dodged.

DAY FOUR (Wednesday)
After a pretty fortuitous drive on Tuesday, things are going to be a little bit different on Wednesday. The next system is going to have a well put together cold front, running essentially along a line from Muskegon to Odell, We will be in windy rain through just about the entirety of the drive, including some spots of sleet as cold air tries to press in. Pretty gross. Don’t let it spoil your opinion of Muskegon, though.

Muskegon, Michigan

Jacksonville, Florida to Syracuse, New York

I-95 is a busy stretch of road in the Mid-Atlantic, but we will spend a lot of time on this famous freeway south of Washington, where it successfully avoids a lot of the busiest spots. It will take two days to get from Jacksonville to Syracuse, and will cover 1071 miles. The pace of the drive will be 67.2mph, and we will make it about half way by the time the first day ends. One day mostly on I-95, one day mostly not.

DAY ONE (Friday)

Jacksonville, Florida

It’s going to be a rough day in Jacksonville, and indeed along the East Coast today as the system that has wrought havoc on the lower Mississippi Valley and surrounding environs continues to march towards the Atlantic. Areas west of Jacksonville are presently under a tornado watch, and a slight risk of severe weather extends all the way north through Virginia. Essentially, our route for day one. But we are leaving tomorrow, and the boundary will already have passed by, leaving a post-storm tranquility to the area. Dry, calm, potentially well trafficked conditions will proceed as we head through Georgia and the Carolinas to Emporia, Virginia, tucked away west of Norfolk.

DAY TWO (Saturday)
It will be chilly in Emporia when we arrive Friday night, but it is far enough south that we will duck any of the late storm flurries that will be persistent in Pennsylvania and New York on Friday. A little bubble of high pressure will emerge over the mid-Atlantic to start the weekend, but clouds associated with this feature have been stubborn. Don’t be entirely surprised if it stays cloudy and cool, especially north of Washington, and then through the remainder of the route to Syracuse.

Syracuse, New York

Albany, Georgia to Milwaukee, Wisconsin

The snowbirds are returning to the north, and while I don’t think Albany is a bit vacation destination, I would imagine there are several people travelling through or near Albany. This particular drive will last two days and cover 992 miles. The drive snakes through some larger towns, and not as much open country as would be conducive to a fast trip, so our pace will be about 65mph, with a day 1 journey of 523 miles, with a little bit shorter day to end it. Go home, Snowbirds!

DAY ONE (Friday)

Albany, Georgia

What do I always say about spring and fall? The systems are bigger and badder, thanks to the clash of air masses, and the system that brought tornadoes to Austin and New Orleans, and continues to bring rain to the east coast, will linger on the Eastern Seaboard as we depart tomorrow, thanks to a deep occlusion and the whole beast just spinning itself over the Great Lakes. Our drive through Georgia and Tennessee will be just fine, but don’t be surprised to see clouds ahead of us when we reach Horse Cave, Kentucky. Lingering light precipitation isn’t moving too quickly thanks to the bogged down system. Horse Cave is near Mammoth Cave, so get away from all the weather worries and just go underground!

DAY TWO (Saturday)
Guidance suggests a lot more movement as the weekend approaches, but I’m not as optimistic. I don’t think it is going to be fully cleared out, say north from Indianapolis, as the models project. It will be chilly and cloudy, with lingering moisture. I would, therefore, anticipate a wet snowflake to fall at any moment as we trudge through Chicago and on north into Milwaukee. Everything slows traffic in Chi-town, but this should be a mild dose of it. Even if it takes a while for this precipitation to shove off, Sunday in Milwaukee should start to look like spring.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin