Pensacola, Florida to Monroe, Louisiana

We have a short, less than 6 hour drive today, covering 368 miles at a pace of about 63 miles. Even though this is a narrow stretch of the road, it is also exactly the most ravaged part of the south from the Easter tornado outbreaks. We will pass through Collins, which was just north of the 2 mile wide, long track twister that struck Bassfield, and clipped by another mile wide twister on the north side of town. It was a bruising day, that the Jackson WFO is still assessing.

Pensacola, Florida

The southeast currently finds itself in a pretty good respite, as the severe weather from Sunday is now a few days behind us, and dry weather has invaded. It’s warm and comfortably dry, though on Friday during the drive, expect the Lower Mississippi Valley to get increasingly humid as a weak cold front sinks southward and draws Gulf moisture north. This will mean increasing cloud cover as well, ahead of some rain that might enter the picture over the weekend in Monroe.

Monroe, Louisiana

Bremerton, Washington to Richmond, Virginia

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)

Bremerton, Washington

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.

Richmond, Virginia

Greensboro, North Carolina to Tucson, Arizona

After a trip to Greensboro, let’s take a lengthy trip from Greensboro. It’s going to take us 3 1/2 days to location to location, and it will require a pace of 71.2mph to cover our 2065 miles, which is downright blistering. We’ll cover 569.7 miles on those first three days, leaving a little bit left over for the fourth day. Westward ho.

DAY ONE (Sunday)

Greensboro, North Carolina

I am quite taken with the rapid pace we will take as we get started off towards Tucson. We’ll alight through 4 different states as we begin, both Carolinas, Georgia and Alabama, where we will finish things off. High pressure is stout in the southeast, and we won’t have any weather concerns between Greensboro and Boligee, Alabama, where we are going to stop for the night.

DAY TWO (Monday)
Low pressure is emerging from the southern Rockies this weekend, and will be a rainy little system moving through the Plains. The tail of the cold front will dangle into the Lower Mississippi Valley as we also scoot through that same part of the country. Shower activity will be possible from about Ruston, Louisiana west into the Piney Woods of Texas. It should be cloudy but dry west of about the Tyler area, which will take us into the Metroplex by evening. The day will end in Fort Worth.

DAY THREE (Tuesday)
Leaving Fort Worth on Tuesday, we will enter the vast expanse of west Texas. It will be at it’s warm, dry and dusty best. There will be no well organized system across the region, but west Texas will indeed be squeezed between features, which will render the region cloudier than normal, but not quite rainy. We’ll make it as far as Tornillo, which isn’t quite to El Paso. Texas is very big.

DAY FOUR (Wednesday)
The next round of wet weather for the desert Southwest, and there certainly aren’t many, usually, will be running into the area on Wednesday morning. There won’t be much rain east of Las Cruces, but there will be a few showers with some elevation wet snow for the entirety of our drive on Wednesday. When you go to Tucson, you probably don’t expect rain, but alas, that’s what we are going to find on this occasion.

Tucson, Arizona

Killeen, Texas to Greensboro, North Carolina

The southern US has been trounced by severe weather lately, from the devastating tornadoes in Nashville and Cookeville, Tennessee, to persistent thunderstorms nearer the Gulf Coast. There is a break in the action, finally, across the region but will it last for our 2 day, 1219 mile route. Will these storms return, or will we be able to manage a steady pace (estimated at 66mph, with a goal of 529 miles in day one)?

DAY ONE (Saturday)

Killeen, TX

A split jet stream over the eastern US is coming together off shore in the Gulf Stream, meaning any and all concerning weather is going to be off shore this weekend. The primary concern between Killeen and Brandon, Mississippi, our destination for the night, will be ensuring that we remember our sunglasses and sunscreen in case we want to sit outside for dinner east of Jackson.

DAY TWO (Sunday)
Brandon, Mississippi, is the home of the WFO for Jackson, and in my opinion is one of the best offices in the country. Too bad the weather is going to be so pleasant while we’re there. High pressure will only consolidate over the southeast, and the drive from Brandon to Greensboro will continue to be pleasant, though in the wake of the strong system now off shore, it might be a little cooler in Greensboro than anywhere else along our drive.

Greensboro, North Carolina

Deltona, Florida to Hattiesburg, Mississippi

I will admit, that I haven’t done a heck of a lot of driving in the southeastern US, so I don’t have a terribly good concept of just how big the spaces are down there. I am a little surprised, I guess is what I am saying, that Deltona and Hattiesburg are only 610 miles apart, and the drive can be done in just one day. The pace will be a brisk 70mph, owing the fact, I guess, that the only major towns we will bypass are Tallahassee and Mobile, which I guess aren’t beset by traffic.

Deltona, Florida

The weather in Deltona today is quite nice, and there really isn’t anything on its way that suggests that will change for the next 24 hours or so. TYhe start of our drive, therefore, looks pretty great, pretty swift and incident free. Unfrotunately, an area of low pressure developing over Ontario, of all places, is draping a cold front south along the Mississippi River, and it will be inching into the Tennessee Valley as we get going on Monday. Now, the cold front will not reach the coast or I-10 at any point, but the flow feeding the boundary will lead to some afternoon showers and storms from the Florida Peninsula west to Hattiesburg. The shower activity is most possible beyond Tallahassee, but doesn’t become likely until we reach Mobile. The rain won’t last all night, so Hattiesburg should dry up by nightfall. Of course if we want to spend any more time in Hattiesburg than just one night, we might need to make sure our plans are of the “indoor” variety.

Hattiesburg, Mississippi

Green Bay, Wisconsin to Columbia, South Carolina

The drive from eastern Wisconsin to central South Carolina, if taken today, would be slowed mightily by rain gripping a wide swath of the eastern United States. We will start this two day trek tomorrow, though, so nothing to fear! The drive will cover 1,013 miles, which we will in turn cover at a pace of 65.3mph. The second day will be a little bit shorter, by a half hour or so, and our target distance on Tuesday will be 523 miles. all very manageable, yes?

DAY ONE (Tuesday)

Green Bay, Wisconsin (By Chris Rand)

Low pressure moving through the eastern portion of the country is gradually unraveling today, and will continue to tomorrow. That means that precipitation which was translating quickly earlier in the week is slowing way down. None of it is reaching into Wisconsin, so the drive south towards the Illinois line should be drama free, but when we hit the Windy City, there is a pretty good chance it will be snowing. The snow will continue in this inverted trough south through Indiana, with a gradual change to rain south of Indianapolis. Precipitation won’t be heavy, but it won’t need to be to slow travel down. We’ll reach the eastern suburbs of Louisville, particularly the town of Middletown, by the end of the day.

DAY TWO (Wednesday)
The back end of that system will swing to the south overnight. The dry slot will disappear from west of the Appalachians, and the light snow will return to our route, and last through our drive in Kentucky. We will turn south at Lexington and there might be a window of dry air by the time we reach Knoxville, which should last us through the rain shadow afforded by the Smokey Mountains from Asheville to Spartanburg, but the cold front associated with this low will start to redevelop on Wednesday afternoon. More rain will move into Columbia from the south, and will be there to greet us upon our arrival.

Columbia, South Carolina

Visalia, California to San Jose, California

Just a quick little trek today, as we head about 3 hours from the Central Valley to the Bay Area. Such a change in geography over only 191 miles. We’re going to cover the ground at a pace of 61.9mph. That’s not very fast, but these short trips aren’t known for their high rates of speed. Nor are California roads.

Visalia, California

Fortunately for our quick drive on Monday morning, the pattern, already pretty good, is going to get even better on the West Coast. A ridge is setting up over California, which may lead to a bit of a breeze, but not much else. The big concern will be traffic, but we’ll get to San Jose around lunch time, so hopefully, it won’t be bad!

San Jose, California

Weirton, West Virginia to St. Joseph, Missouri

Weirton lies along the banks of the Ohio River, while St. Joseph is on the Missouri. Maybe they aren’t the most famous towns on their respective rivers, but they do offer a chance to get up close to them. It will require a day and a half drive over the course of 832 miles. Our first day will conclude 518.7 miles in, slowed by travelling off-interstate to a pace of 64.8mph.

DAY ONE (Tuesday)

Weirton, West Virginia

High pressure has nosed into the western Great Lakes, and will suppress much rising air, which usually just means that there won’t be any showers or storms in the area. This is true, but for our purposes, it means an inversion across much of the region as well. This suggests there will be A) low clouds and B) morning fog, thanks to the high moisture content in the region, thanks to snow melt and a lack of motivation to clear out. As the day goes on, expect improved visibility and maybe even a bit of sun in the afternoon over Illinois and Indiana. We’ll stop in Buffalo, Illinois, between Springfield and Decatur, for our sole break of the trip.

DAY TWO (Wednesday)
A weak feature sliding along the Texas Gulf Coast will extend an inverted trough to the Show Me State, which means a few wet flakes across the region. Given the temperatures, it seems likely that this will lead to some especially icy roads in northern Missouri, even if there isn’t a lot of accumulation. I’m concerned about the threat for some freezing mist in the morning. Drive safely!

St. Joseph, Missouri

Madison, Wisconsin to Weirton, West Virginia

That, my friends, is a lot of W’s. We are going to trek through the Great Lakes right in the middle of winter. Does this mean Lake effect snow? Maybe! There is only one way o find out, I suppose. Our drive till take one long day, covering 606 miles, bogged down by the Windy City, which will let us move at a nearly glacial pace of 62mph. We’ll get there. Sometime.

Madison, Wisconsin

It’s not Lake effect snow that will be the problem on our Saturday drive, but rather just standard, regular back side of an area of low pressure snow that will be an issue. It’s not going to be heavy, save, perhaps for the stretch of northern Indiana downwind of Lake Michigan. the snow will be wet, too, and well trafficked roads might not even ice over with the snow. But any snow, especially in a metropolitan area like Chicago, is going to really slow down travel. Snow will still be possible across Ohio, but it will be a misty, flaky brand of snow that won’t accumulate and will be tough to wipe off your windshield without the help of washer fluid. Weirton awaits, whether or not you can get the grime off your windshield.

Weirton, West Virginia

Prescott, Arizona to Madison, Wisconsin

I think this might be the first road trip of the year, right? It will be a 3 day trip through the heart of the country, covering 1689 miles at a pace of about 65mph. That will mean the first two days will be complete after just short of 520 miles on days 1 and 2, with a 10 hour day coming on Sunday. 2020, here we come!

DAY ONE (Friday)

Prescott, Arizona

We are headed for a trip through the southern Rockies at the right time. Atmospheric instability is confined to the central Plains for the most part, with a dose in the northern Rockies, leaving Arizona and New Mexico fairly unperturbed. We’ll check in on Flagstaff and Albuquerque on our eastward journey, stopping west of Santa Rosa, New Mexico to end our day and our work week.

DAY TWO (Saturday)
As we continue to the east, we’ll slice through a couple of Panhandles before spending the rest of the day in southern Kansas. I don’t recall ever spending much time in this part of the world on a road trip, and I especially don’t remember cutting through Wichita to get anywhere. Usually, it’s just a bypass on I-35. Not this time! Instead, we will enjoy an increasingly warm day, free of any atmospheric interference before we reach El Dorado, where we will end our day. Along the way, appreciate Greensburg, a city that has had to completely rebuild after a devastating tornado in 2007.

DAY THREE (Sunday)
Sure, this day will be the longest, and it will also be the gloomiest, with clouds becoming much more likely thanks to a combination of general troughiness* over the Plains, and the melting snow north of Kansas City leading to clouds and fog along most of the route. On the other hand, at least the car won’t be unbearably hot because of the penetrative sun, and we will get to see Des Moines! And Dubuque! Both are very nice towns. So is Madison, for those unaware.

* Not an actual science word