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.