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Old 01-18-2015, 07:24 AM   #1
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Is it Safe to Take I 80 in late January?

I need to tow my second home AS, to Davis Cal.. at the end of Jan, (new grandbaby). Since I 80 is shortest route from Lacrosse, WI. , just wondered about winter driving that route. I am assuming I will not fill any tank w water till I get there but will use black and grey tanks, I am mostly wondering about roads thru mtn. passes, chains? etc. Anyone w experience on this route? Thanks alot.
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Old 01-18-2015, 07:41 AM   #2
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I drive I 80 a lot for work travel...summer and winter. It is no more and no less an issue than any other winter Interstate, given current conditions. Be prepared to interrupt travel when conditions are bad. I have noted, over the years, that the hilly section from Iowa city to Des Moines can be the worst stretch I travel from Chicago. I don't travel much west of Des Moines...yet (I just got an expanded work territory that will take me through Nebraska and Kansas). Particularly Newton to Des Moines section seems to get built up with ice and snow more than the rest of the way through West Des Moines.
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Old 01-18-2015, 08:53 AM   #3
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What dznfog said.

Look to see if there are campgrounds open along your route, as many are closed in the winter months.

If there is a heavy snow coming, I just wouldn't do it. Snow can come down so fast that the plows can't keep up with it, you end up driving in tire tracks thru snow and ice.

Watch the weather, make sure there are campgrounds open, and adjust your plans accordingly.

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Old 01-18-2015, 09:04 AM   #4
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Those mountain passes can be hell. A frozen one. Check the weather forecasts and don't press any luck taking chances.
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Old 01-18-2015, 09:29 AM   #5
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I-80 between Kimbal, NE and Rock Springs, WY can be sunny and dry one minute. The next minute you could find yourself in a blizzard with winds of 50mph.
While the elevation is not much over 7K' feet to get over the continental divide. Much of it is wide open. No shelter from the wind.
Then there are the mountains in Utah and California.
It would be the luck of the draw to make the entire trip without in running into some weather problems in late January.
If you decide to go. Be prepared with plenty of food, drinking water and warm clothes. Keep your fuel tank topped off. You could be stuck in the middle of no where on the side of the road.
I have seen the stretch of I-80 closed for up to 3 days in Wyoming.
Also, chain laws will be in effect in WY, UT, NV and CA when the road conditions require. If you are not equipped, you will be held up.
There won't be many RV parks or campgrounds open. Truck stops will work, but no power will be available. The truck stops are a long way apart in this country.
Again. DO NOT let yourself get low on fuel.
Cell phone service will be limited or non existent in many areas along this route.


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Old 01-18-2015, 11:00 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TG Twinkie View Post
I-80 between Kimbal, NE and Rock Springs, WY can be sunny and dry one minute. The next minute you could find yourself in a blizzard with winds of 50mph.
While the elevation is not much over 7K' feet to get over the continental divide. Much of it is wide open. No shelter from the wind.
Then there are the mountains in Utah and California.
It would be the luck of the draw to make the entire trip without in running into some weather problems in late January.
If you decide to go. Be prepared with plenty of food, drinking water and warm clothes. Keep your fuel tank topped off. You could be stuck in the middle of no where on the side of the road.
I have seen the stretch of I-80 closed for up to 3 days in Wyoming.
Also, chain laws will be in effect in WY, UT, NV and CA when the road conditions require. If you are not equipped, you will be held up.
There won't be many RV parks or campgrounds open. Truck stops will work, but no power will be available. The truck stops are a long way apart in this country.
Again. DO NOT let yourself get low on fuel.
Cell phone service will be limited or non existent in many areas along this route.


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Yup, been across that route many times in late fall and January/February. We have had to find a motel several times. Motels fill up fast when there is a storm comming, so beware. (Our trips were mostly pulling a six place snowmobile trailer.)

One year we had to leave the truck and trailer, and break out the sleds to get to a motel. When we came back a few days later, there was 3 feet of snow around and on top of the rig. It took us several hours to dig out, and get back on the road.

Carry a set of cable chains, they are the easiest to put on in the snow. BTW if you have only one set of chains, they go on the front axle of a FWD truck.

It can get cold up there, too, at that time of year. I've seen 31 deg. below zero in Wyoming in Feb.

If you just have to go, leave early, stay late. Best of luck to you.
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Old 01-18-2015, 12:53 PM   #7
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Mountains

4-wheel drive or chains may be required depending on immediate road conditions. This is a risky time to cross the many ranges.
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Old 01-18-2015, 01:12 PM   #8
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used to live and work in Wyoming , lived a stones throw from 80, been across from Cheyenne to Utah more times than I care to remember . Have seen it closed in mid June because of snow and it's always an adventure. Been sitting at the Union 76 in Evanston in August watching a snowstorm move through.

It WILL be blowing snow like the dickens and it will have plenty of iced over and snow packed sections and black ice is common . This is between blizzards and snowstorms, then you will encounter the gates down and the roads closed .

The stretch between Cheyenne and Omaha "lived there a couple of years also " is susceptible to freezing rain which is to say the least "interesting to drive on a sheet of ice of ice for 500 miles "

If your very very lucky you could shoot all the way through on bare pavement ! Not likely though.

Have loads of fun !

PS

Several times while living in Cheyenne the city would announce over the local radio that stranded travelers were needing a place to hole up till the blizzard moved on and the roads reopened because all the hotels and shelters were filled up and the folks that had homes there would take in folks so they would not have to wait out the storm in their cars .
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Old 01-18-2015, 01:15 PM   #9
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Is it Safe to Take I 80 in late January?

Yeah, in November 2013, my son and I drove I-80 eastbound from SLC to Lincoln. Across WY there are all kinds of snow fences, gates for closing the highway in snowy conditions, warning signs saying that if the highway is closed you have to turn around and find someplace to say until they can clear it, and snow fields on the mountains to either side. There are also hundreds of miles of nothing at all (e.g. no people, no help, no nothing except those snow fences). We got lucky with spectacularly good weather until we hit the polar vortex of 2013 shortly after entering NE. We could see the cold front for miles. The fog bank from that cold front was so heavy that it was like driving into Mordor...and then the fog started freezing out of the air onto our car. The next morning we woke up to -10F in Lincoln, though no snow. Brutally cold, but still we got lucky.

Your mileage may vary and you may hit the weather patterns just right, but I would not voluntarily make that trip this time of year, especially while pulling a trailer. I'd recommend a more southerly route if possible. If not, as others have said, it's probably best carry plenty of cold-weather tools (e.g. shovels and chains), and supplies in case you find yourselves stranded due to a blizzard and/or have to dig out after one. If you haven't already done so, it's best to winterize your trailer and travel dry, as no sane amount of propane would keep your pipes / tanks from freezing at those temps.
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Old 01-18-2015, 01:19 PM   #10
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Have seen it 30 below in Cheyenne and 40 below in Laramie .
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Old 01-18-2015, 01:43 PM   #11
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Beware of Whiteout.

I pulled off of a small highway in Wyoming, into a motel, because it started snowing. The lady behind the desk basically said to go have a drink to celebrate the fact that I wasn't going to die. She said drivers often die on that road in windy snowy conditions. She said people can't see the road. I couldn't see the bar that was across the road.
Be prepared to hold up at rest stop, or gas station
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Old 01-18-2015, 03:05 PM   #12
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I-80

Hello,

I live in Pennsylvania and have travelled I-80...I know that you will not be going in that direction, but, where I live and know about it, I refer it as a "death trap".....especially in the winter. Numerous accidents...mostly weather related. I avoid this section if I can when traveling to Maine. Also I have seen really stupid driving techniques used on this interstate both by cars and trucks. I wish you well on your travels. Be safe...don't rush.
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Old 01-18-2015, 03:15 PM   #13
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Even in March, I-80 can be a snowy death trap. If you see a week of no snow and no snow predicted for the week you plan on traveling, then and only then, would I try driving and towing an AS.
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Old 01-18-2015, 03:53 PM   #14
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Have you ever done Rt. 66 ? : Somewhat longer, but probably better traveling that time of year. Go early, have some fun along the way.
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