This one is going to be lengthy, my friends. There is a lot of ground to cover between Bellingham and Lafayette. It will be a 4 day trip that covers 2258 miles. The first three days will cover 531 miles, leaving the rest for Sunday. The extensive time spent on western interstates will mean a speed of 66.4mph, allowing such a high daily total for our drive. That’s out of the way, let’s get forecastin’.
Unfortunately for our purposes an area of low pressure is diving from the Gulf of Alaska into the Pacific Northwest. There is an honest to goodness cold front associated with this which will mean some more consistent wind flow than there usually is with the Pacific Northwest confused jumble that we have all grown to expect. That said, it will rain almost entirely through the day tomorrow. The heaviest will be along the coast to Seattle, then east towards the Cascades. After we start making our way uphill towards the Snoqualmie Pass, all that rain will turn to a sticky, wet snow that will really slow things down. I hope you have snow tires. It will continue until we get to the top of the climb and start winding back downhill when, suddenly, things will clear out. They will last from the leeward slope of the Cascades until about Spokane, when the dreary skies will probably start spitting some drizzle again. The end of the day will be in Big Pine fishing area in Montana northwest of Missoula. Bring a tent.
That system will continue to follow us into the expanse that is Montana. We will be ducking the snow most of the day, and the precipitation we see will definitely be snow, until we start coming out of the mountains around Butte. From Butte to Bozeman the snow will likely be at it’s fluffiest, with some rain possibly mixing in from Bozman to near Billings. We will get out ahead of the wintry mix eventually to Eplie, which is in the rural southeastern Prairie. No way of knowing if they actually have services there. Bring a tent.
The flurry activity will remain with us when we wake up on Saturday morning. The good news is that, when the system sets itself up on the lee side of the northern Rockies, it’s going to slow down. A warm front will set itself up through North Dakota, or the Dakota we will not be in. Hooray! This means we’ll be able to enjoy sunny skies and seasonably warm temperatures as we make our way to Luverne in the very southwestern corner of Minnesota. It doesn’t come along very often that we end a day in Minnesota. How exciting. And I’m almost certain that we can stash the tent in Luverne.
It’s going to be a long drive to get from Minnesota to Lafayette. I used to make this drive when I was in school though (I went to Purdue, for those that have never checked the about us page), so it can be done. Once again the storm system will catch up to us while we sleep. In this case, however, temperatures will be warm enough aloft and at the surface that we will see only light rain and fog with the system. It’s going to be a Sunday as well, so traffic in the Chicago area will be slowed but not impassable as we reach that last interminable bit of driving. Trust me, the drive from Chicago to Lafayette is tough. It’s not a difficult drive objectively, but after spending 9 hours in the car in crummy weather already, it’s not so much fun. Anyways, maybe some drizzle in Lafayette.