No such luck

Rain and cooler temperatures moved into the Pacific Northwest this week, and the first bouts of wet weather had just passed Redding by when we stopped in for a forecast. Unfortunately, they never returned, with the jet trough planting itself north of the Oregon border. Redding stayed hot and smoky through the weekend last weekend. The scenario was well anticipated by our forecasters, and there was good clustering across the board, with The Weather Channel securing a solo victory.
Actuals: Saturday, High 96, Low 67
Sunday, High 95, Low 61

Grade: B-C

Columbia, South Carolina to Redding, California

It’s the weekend, baby! And our drive is going to cover a lot of country at what is really the right time of year to be taking such a journey. Temperatures are usually perfect for keeping the windows down, while you can stop and take in football games on the weekend, or baseball games in the week. This drive will take 5 days, so plenty of chances to stop, and will cover 2782 miles. It’s a hike, but we will break it up into 543 mile chunks at a pace of 67.8mph. Day 5 will be the longest, but it is also the stretch with the fewest roadside attractions.

DAY ONE (Saturday)

Columbia, South Carolina

The eastern US needs to dry itself out, and it will get the chance on Saturday. High pressure is going to build across the southeastern US, at least at the surface. It’s strength will help guide Larry and Mindy northward, while temporarily preventing the development of more tropical activity in the Gulf. It’s not permanent, but it is going to last long enough. Expect now weather related impairment as we head from Columbia to Kuttawa in western Kentucky. It’s kind of a resort-y area, so hotels will be plentiful.

DAY TWO (Sunday)
Low pressure is sliding through the Great Lakes toward eastern Canada, and a nearly stationary front will be left in it’s wake. It will try to bubble up some isolated showers and storms along the Minnesota-Iowa border on Sunday afternoon, but the ridge to the south is just going to be too much. Expect instead warmer than normal temperatures along our route, which will end in Dunbar, Nebraska, which is in the southeastern corrner of the state.

DAY THREE (Monday)
Driving across Nebraska, at least to me, is fun. It’s really easy to figure out where you are, as the farmland leads to regularly intervals between towns, and you can move pretty quick, especially on a quiet day like Monday. There will be a spot of shower and thunderstorm activity late in the day though, as we approach the Wyoming border. Isolated thunderstorms will pop up in the front range, or until we are over Sherman Summit approximately. We’ll be on the other side of the high range and through Laramie to the Bath exit about 20 miles west of Laramie.

DAY FOUR (Tuesday)
Storm activity will pick up in the Plains on Tuesday, so nice work getting out of there when we did. Some late showers and storms will pop up in southern Wyoming, but they should hold until we are into Utah. It looks pretty stormy in the Colorado Rockies too, but that is neither here nor there. In this case, “there” is outside of Wells, Nevada, where we will suspend our journey for the night.

DAY FIVE (Wednesday)
Hopefully, the rain that moved through the northwest today helped to quench some of the fires in Northern California and Oregon, but I don’t have high hopes. Temperatures will be dry, and the sky will almost certainly be tinged an unsettling color as we pass through Sierras into northern California and settle into the northernmost Central Valley, to park our butts in Redding.

Redding, California

Redding, California

As is definitely the case across the west, northern California continues to withstand one of the worst droughts the country has seen, perhaps since the Dust Bowl. The fire season has been particularly devastating just to the south of Redding in recent years. With that as a backdrop, lets hope for weather that is favorable to fire fighting efforts.

At 653AM, PT, Redding was reporting clear skies wit smoke and a temperature of 69 degrees. Dew points in the Central Valley were higher than most northern Californians are accustomed to, hanging out in the mid 60s. Isolated showers and thunderstorms are expected this afternoon, thanks to a short waved low rotating through southern Oregon. Unfortunately, it looks backed by more energy than moisture, and as a result, red flag warnings are out for the northern California Sierras, as lightning may touch off more fires.
After the energetic bundle shifts out, the exit region of an upper level jet will remain in place along the Oregon/California border. High clouds will dot the skies of northern California, while cool, autumnal conditions will be just out of reach. Flow will be from the west, which will hopefully allow some smoke in the region to clear.
Tomorrow – Partly cloudy, High 93, Low 62
Sunday – Mostly sunny, High 96, Low 60

TWC: Tomorrow -A mainly sunny sky. High 92, Low 65
Sunday – Intervals of clouds and sunshine. High 95, Low 62

AW: Tomorrow – Mostly sunny and hot; smoke from area fires will lead to poor air quality High 94, Low 62
Sunday – Sunshine and hot; possible danger of dehydration and heat stroke while doing strenuous activities High 97, Low 60

NWS: Tomorrow – Sunny High 93, Low 65
Sunday – Mostly sunny, High 95, Low 64

WB: Tomorrow – Sunny, High 94, Low 65
Sunday – Mostly sunny, High 97, Low 63

WN: Tomorrow – Mostly sunny, High 92, Low 65
Sunday – Mostly sunny, High 95, Low 64

FIO: Tomorrow- Clear throughout the day. High 95, Low 70
Sunday – Clear throughout the day. High 97, Low 66

Here is the morning satellite imagery from Redding. It’s pretty cloudy to the north, and it’s tough to pick out individual smoke plumes. The smoke is there though.

Redding, California to Montgomery, Alabama

Got a long trip from northern CA to the Deep South, covering 2,536 miles, which should take 5 days to cover.


A broad ridge of high pressure is found over the Great Basin/Four Corners region, which is keeping most of the thunderstorm activity over the Sierras as well as the Rockies in the Four Corners region. Much of the day should be dry and fairly quiet as we travel southward from Redding along I-5 to Sacramento, then along Hwy 99 through much of the Central Valley past Fresno and Bakersfield. Late in the afternoon and evening we’ll cut across the Antelope Valley on 58 before ending our long day in Barstow.


Going to be spending all day on I-40 as we head east out of Barstow and eventually make our way into northwestern AZ by midday. Some spotty thunderstorms are expected to get going over the mountains as we make our way towards Flagstaff, so by the evening hours some of this activity looks to roll off of them, which could give us a bit of a wet welcome heading past Winslow and Holbrook before ending our night in Gallup, NM.


Slightly shorter day today, but still a hike across New Mexico as we continue our tour of I-40. However, storms are expected to flare up over the mountains in the central part of the state, so if we don’t get past them in time, we’ll be needing to turn on our wipers as we pass Albuquerque and eventually Santa Rosa. If we can get out ahead of the storms, it should be smooth sailing into Amarillo, TX, where we’ll end the night. Don’t be surprised if some late evening storms roll into town however, might keep us up a bit.


Our tour of I-40 comes to an end as we head southeast on 280 out of Amarillo towards Wichita Falls. Unfortunately a boundary settling across the Central Plains eastward is interacting with moisture coming up from the Gulf, and widespread showers and thunderstorms are expected to develop during the midday hours and persist well into the evening. Some thunderstorm activity could get potent as we pass by the Dallas-Fort Worth area, hopefully we’re able to dodge it as we continue onwards and end the long day in Shreveport, LA.


Looks like it will be another day of dodging showers and storms as low pressure shifts into the Mid-MS River Valley, increasing the chances of storms from AR/LA eastward into AL/GA as the day progresses. I don’t expect a washout, but you will have to keep an eye on the sky as we push through MS on I-20 past Jackson and eventually into Alabama before finally ending our trip in Montgomery.