Category Archives: Road Trip

Nashville, Tennessee to Charleston, West Virginia

Today we travel between state capitals that are almost exactly the same distance from Frankfort, KY (another state captial) as one another. That’s right, Nashville and Charleston are both pretty much right at ~180 miles away as the crow flies from the capital of Kentucky. Fun fact right? Today’s one-day trip won’t go through Frankfort, but will spend plenty of time in the Bluegrass State.

It’s a fairly dry but chilly start to the day as we head northwards out of Nashville on I-65 towards Bowling Green. There might be a few spotty rain showers as we hit Elizabethtown and head eastwards on I-64, but shouldn’t be anything to be really worried about hazard-wise. As we cruise past Lexington around noon, showers should be mostly dried up and the rest of the day will be cloudy but dry as we head into Charleston.

Sacramento, California to Wichita, Kansas

OK, we get it. It’s cold out east. There will be record breaking cold temperatures this weekend in the wake of strong thunderstorms yesterday. Not only that, there is snow expected as far south as the Tennessee Valley and Washington DC. That part of the world is already getting headlines. What of the rest of the country? We’ll figure that out on a three day trek from northern California to Kansas. The drive will cover 1678 miles, which will be evenly divided at 559 miles a day, or the briskly paced 70mph. We’re going to find out what’s going on out west rather quickly.

DAY ONE (Thursday)

The weather out west is significantly more seasonable than it is in the eastern part of the country, though a not insignificant part of the reason for that is an area of low pressure over the Gulf of Alaska that is generating some nice warm flow out of the Mexican deserts. There may be some mid layer clouds to mottle the sun, but otherwise, the landscape will be stark, and our drive easy. We’ll end the day in the Bonneville Salt Flats of northwestern Utah, which is perhaps the most desolate seeming place on the planet.

DAY TWO (Friday)
Clouds will be building over Bonneville overnight, threatening some rain along the Idaho border, but the warm front associated with that low in the Gulf of Alaska will snake its way southeast to the northern Rockies and High Plains, where the baroclinic set up will feed off the descending air of the Rockies and start to churn into its own separate system. For our purposes, a big slug of moisture is going to make a hard charge through Wyoming, threatening our route with some very heavy snowfall, particularly from Rock Springs to Laramie. The good news is, the snow won’t be as intense as we are driving, but the bad news is that it will have recently fallen, and throughout the day, our expedience will rely on Wyoming DOT clearing the roads. Assuming we can maintain our pace, the best chance for snow continuing to fall as we drive through will be around Laramie, though when we are on the dry side of the Rockies, I think the snow showers will be a memory. A very visible one, because we will likely be able to see the snow falling in the Colorado Rockies. Wyoming will see the heaviest snow, we might not see any in Colorado, and I haven’t mentioned Utah, where we will begin our day. From Salt Lake City to Rock Springs, Wyoming, the higher passes may see some snow showers, but it will be cloudy and driveable beforehand. We’ll end the day in Berthoud, Colorado, west-southwest of Greeley.

DAY THREE (Saturday)
Behind our newly developed system, the same that brought snow to Wyoming on Friday, cold high pressure will build into the Plains. Very cold high pressure. Many locations will break records for lows, as well as low maximums. For April. Not just the day, for the entire month. But it won’t be snowing! That can be your solace in the ice box of Wichita.

Aerial of the Downtown Skyline of Wichita, Kansas with the Arkansas River and the Lawrence-Dumont Stadium in the Foreground

Lima, Ohio to Great Falls, Montana

Today we embark on a lengthy 3-day trip, which covers 1,681 miles from Ohio to Montana. Got a long weekend drive ahead of us, so we don’t have a minute to waste!

DAY ONE

A system is pushing its’ way out of the Eastern Great Lakes, with the backend of the system still kicking up a few showers over Western OH. The windshield will be wet as we head northwest towards Ft. Wayne, but with high pressure moving into the Midwest, some sun should peek out during the day. As we push through Chicago midday, we should have partly cloudy skies and overall pleasant conditions. We head up along I-90 towards Rockford then north into Wisconsin, following I-90 past Madison and the Wisconsin Dells before finishing the day in La Crosse.

DAY TWO

Today is going to be a long day, but it’s all westward on I-90! An area of low pressure is swinging through the Northern Plains during the night last night and we could see some light snow on our car as we head out in the morning. A rain/snow mix is expected as we start the day, which then changes over to some light snow, but only briefly. We shouldn’t have many road issues since it was rain as it moved through the rest of Southern MN overnight. A slightly faster route would have been to head up I-94 into ND, but with this storm expected to bring 6-12″ right along I-94 throughout ND, I-90 is the much safer play. Clouds will dissipate throughout the day as the cold front pushes off to the east and our main weather issue of the day will be gusty northwest winds coming in behind the front. That’ll probably sap our gas mileage, but otherwise, a fairly uneventful day as we cruise on by Sioux Falls and all the west westward to Rapid City, where we end the day. Thankfully the speed limit is 80 in SD!

DAY THREE

A bit of energy kicking up snow is found over Nebraska as we start our final day of the trip, but some snow showers could sneak into Rapid City as we start the day. This activity will continue pushing towards the south, which means its impact on us will be minimal as the main axis of high pressure is found over Eastern Montana into the Central Dakotas. Even though the morning and midday hours should be okay, an area of low pressure is pushing through the Pacific Northwest today, and looks like it’ll start producing snow in the lee of the Rockies once we get to the late afternoon hours. We should be okay to make it northwestward to Hwy 87 then continue westward, but the last 50-100 miles could be a bit of slow-going as the snow showers get going as we make our way into Great Falls.

Terre Haute, Indiana to Bakersfield, California

The most challenging part of a cross country drive, if you ask me, is the well traveled roads along the east coast, so therefore, we’re going to cut that part of the journey out, and simply trek from Indiana to the west coast. It will be a nearly 4 day drive, though the last day won’t be nearly as challenging. We will cover 2009 miles on our trek at a pace of about 67mph, with those first three days netting, we hope, nearly 536 miles a day.

 
DAY ONE (Tuesday)

Our big area of low pressure headed towards New England will be leaving a tail in the mid-Mississippi Valley that we will enjoy the fruits of throughout our first day of driving. Fortunately, the fact that it will be the day time, and the early hours of spring, temperatures should be warm enough to prevent flurries. A light drizzle will be possible for a good chunk of the morning. The clouds will be cloudy one way or another, with a threat of a break over eastern Missouri, including around St. Louis. Towards the end of the day, a finger of snow is possible over western Missouri, and we could see a flake around Springfield and Joplin, but we’ll make it back to dry weather in Claremore, Oklahoma, just to the northeast of Tulsa.

DAY TWO (Wednesday)
High pressure and a sometimes brisk south wind will be our companion on Wednesday. We’ll move through the Panhandle of Texas and into New Mexico as part of the journey, stopping for the night in Cuervo, New Mexico. It sounds like there should be some tequila there, or something.

DAY THREE (Thursday)
Hoo boy, there is a strong area of low pressure looming off the west coast. Get ready for news stories about massive snow storms in the coastal ranges, thunderstorms and torrential rain at the coast. Fortunately, we will be in New Mexico and Arizona on Thursday, so we can appreciate some sunny skies and pleasantly cool air, thanks to wind coming off the chilly Pacific. We’ll make it to Seligman, Arizona, which is kind of a touristy, stop for the night kind of town.

DAY FOUR (Friday)
The heavy weather is expected to lift north away from our route, but don’t be surprised if there is a little bit of rain and even thunder in the high terrain of northern Arizona as we get going. Light rain showers are going to be possible closer to Fresno, and some fog will continue around Los Angeles, but Bakersfield will be in a nice little dome of dry weather. Boy, Google really steered us away from the rough stuff on this one. Thanks Google!

Billings, Montana to Little Rock, Arkansas

Today we kick off a 3-day road trip from Billings to Little Rock. We’re going to be visiting a lot of the Great Plains during this trip, will Mother Nature make it an easy southward jaunt? Let’s find out!

DAY ONE

High pressure is found extending from the Northern High Plains southward all the way into the Southern Plains. This is gonna keep skies clear from our departure out of Billings down I-90 into northeast WY, then continue south on I-25 past Casper and Cheyenne before finishing the day in Ft. Collins, CO.

DAY TWO

Today we leave the scenic foothills of the Rockies and head Eastward on I-70 out of Denver into Kansas. Continued high pressure over the Central Plains will keep skies clear for another day, making for easy driving when we finish the night in Salina, KS.

DAY THREE

High pressure shifts off to the east as an area of low pressure attempts to get established over the Central Plains. It’ll be a dry start to the day, although clouds move into southern KS and Oklahoma overnight as southerly flow returns to the region. Clouds will break up some as we head past Tulsa towards Ft. Smith. Some late evening showers could pop up over southern Missouri/far northern Arkansas, but should remain off to the north of our route as we pull into Little Rock for the evening!

Bridgeport, Connecticut to Lake Havasu City, Arizona

This trip will cover 2,578 miles over 5 days, from Coast to Desert Southwest. Looks like there’s some weather we’ll have to push through to get there, so let’s get a move on!

DAY ONE

Cloudy skies and perhaps a light rain shower greet us as we head west from Bridgeport and eventually past New York City. As a storm system works through the Northeast, we’ll luck out and stay just on the warm side of this system as we head past Allentown and through southern PA. It’ll be a soggy day though as we meander down I-76 and I-70 to Wheeling, WV, where we end our day.

DAY TWO

Another storm system is shifting through the Midwest as we head into Ohio to start the day. Once again, we’ll be on the warm side of things so we just have to deal with rain as we head past Columbus on I-70. We’ll be spending all day on I-70, so navigating will be a piece of cake as we eventually pass Indianapolis, and by this time the precip will be behind us. We continue through IL and finish the night in St. Louis.

DAY THREE

Conditions go downhill overnight as yet another system shifts into the Central US (man we just can’t catch a break can wek?!). We wake up to rain showers as today we take a tour of I-44 towards Lebanon and Springfield. Rain will continue to plague our trip, first as we head out of St. Louis and a 2nd wave midday as we head through Joplin, with some thunderstorms possibly mixed in there as well. As we head past Tulsa though, we’re in the clear as the system pushes east, and we end our day in Oklahoma City.

DAY FOUR

Finally! An easy day today just heading west on I-40 as high pressure of sorts settles into the Southern Plains. More of just a period between systems than high pressure really. Easy sailing as we push into Albuquerque for the night.

DAY FIVE

Another day of all I-40 fun! And another easy day! Calm weather settles over the Desert Southwest and it’ll be a pretty smooth drive through the rest of western NM and AZ to Lake Havasu!

Carson City, Nevada to Minneapolis, Minnesota

Classic road trips need to head through South Dakota. That’s just the rule. This three day trip will do just that, so you know it’s a good one. We’re going to cover 3 days, with the third day lasting a little bit longer than the first two. Our drive will be 1,778 miles, done at a pace of 68.4mph, so our first two days will allow us coverage of 547 miles. The Rockies can be sketchy this time of year, but perhaps the rest of the drive will be a bit more manageable.


DAY ONE (Monday)

My fears of sketchiness in the higher terrain of the intermountain West will be confirmed on Monday. A sharp trough angled from the Canadian Prairies towards the Mojave will slice right across the Great Basin. The angle won’t allow the absorption of much moisture into the feature, and high pressure will prevent it from moving terribly quickly. Instead, expect gusty winds with some light flurries, particularly around the Elko area in northeastern Nevada. Accumulations won’t stack up, but in this part of the world, the breeze will make it difficult to see. There is a chance that the flurry activity will continue into the Bonneville Flats which provides an interesting conundrum. How can you tell if the snow is accumulating. or if it’s just the salt? We’ll make it to a slightly snowy Salt Lake City to call it a day.

DAY TWO (Tuesday)
Our trough will attempt to bring moisture in from the chilly eastern Pacific over the Wasatch, and it will largely be unsuccessful. There might be a few snow showers at the beginning of our day as we travel through the far northern end of the Wasatch range in northeastern Utah, but after that, the day will be pretty easy. Wyoming is going to stay clear of the snowy conditions, and we will end the day in the least populous county in the least populous state, north of Lusk at the Mule Creek junction in Niobara County.

DAY THREE (Wednesday)
Chilly upper level troughing is going to recede from the Upper Midwest on Wednesday, just in time for us to arrive. The sun will be out in full force, which is going to be great, because it will make a long day tolerable. IF the day wasn’t already 10 hours long, I would say stop at Mount Rushmore, but instead, I will just say get to Minneapolis, where you will actually get to experience a comfortable day.

Rockford, Illinois to Punta Gorda, Florida

Hey, it’s time to get road trippin’! We’re headed from Northern Illinois to South Florida in a road trip most Rockfordians can only dream of. We’ll take 2 1/2 days to cover the miles that need to be covered, which are all told 1,352. Our first two days will be pretty intense, covering 541.25 miles, but that’s thanks to some pretty stark terrain in Illinois and a speed of 67.7mph.

DAY ONE (Friday)

Sunset in Rockford, Illinois, USA.


Thanks to the fact that a route straight south of Rockford to the very bottom of the state takes a big jaunt to the east, towards Champaign, we will stay in the Land of Lincoln for at least 3/4ths of the day Friday, and then blow right through western Kentucky. There will be snow falling in northern Illinois thanks to a stalled boundary extending from the southern Great Lakes into the Plains. It could be breezy, but the light snow will only stack up a few inches, albeit those inches will be falling on a half a foot or so that is falling overnight tonight.. We’ll be out of it somewhere around Bloomington, and it won’t be chasing us on Friday, so conditions will be markedly warmer, and definitely drier as we make it all the way to the outskirts of Nashville.

DAY TWO (Saturday)

As we sleep in Nashville, a vorticity maximum will be gathering organization in the southeastern US, getting ready to mass an assault on Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee. It will likely be pouring when we set forth from Nashville. The weather will only get nastier in the higher terrain between Murfreesboro and Chattanooga, with some thunder possible as well, but then, somewhere between Chattanooga and Rome, it will let up. Georgia is a hilly, verdant state, and there may be some haze or fog all the way to Warner Robins before it relents. Then, enjoy some good old fashioned humidity south on to Lake City in north Florida.

DAY THREE (Sunday)

That little vort max I mentioned is really going to haul in the moisture and really latch on to the original cold front that brought problems to us near Rockford. Remember that bugger? So as it sinks south, expect quite a bit of rain and wind, and ultimately a bit of snow and ice through Georgia, the Carolinas and the rest of the southeast. Except Florida. A vigorous flow across the peninsula will likely lead to some stray pop up showers, bot those will diminish towards the coasts. Punta Gorda is on a coast. It won’t be so bad!