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Snow in Mountains for Aug. Road Trip?
July 20, 2007 12:28 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to drive from Boston to San Francisco in August. Will I encounter snow or other weather hazards in the Mountains?

I've got an AWD sports car, but I've put on my UHP summer tires - only good for rain, not rated for snow. Someone told me the mountain passes have extreme weather. I shouldn't encountered snow or other hazards in the middle of August, will I? Are there any other obstacles like this I should be aware of?
posted by morallybass to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total)
 
nothings for certain, but its extremely unlikely that you will encounter snow (falling or glacial) on the interstate in August.
posted by uaudio at 12:32 PM on July 20, 2007


uaudio's got it. it's pretty much still summer, even in the mountains.
posted by craven_morhead at 12:42 PM on July 20, 2007


It actually looks like you'd only pass through the Wasatch Front in Utah and the Sierra Nevada in California/Nevada were you to take Interstate 90 to Cleveland and Interstate 80 west from there; as 90 appears to dodge the Appalachians through upstate New York and 80 gets through a gap in the Rockies in Wyoming, I'd say the risk of snow is pretty minimal as the ranges you would be crossing are rather narrow and passable in a few hours.
posted by mdonley at 12:43 PM on July 20, 2007


You could take the route I took in November, 2005 when I did that exact same drive: 70 west to Denver, 25 south to 40 west in New Mexico, 40 west to Flagstaff, spend a day at the Grand Canyon, then 40 west on to 5 north in California, up to the Bay. Or 1 north if you want to see the coast, which is beautiful. Anyway the point is, it lets you circumvent the higher elevations of the Rockies. And the Grand Canyon is something everyone should see once in their life.
posted by autojack at 12:44 PM on July 20, 2007


I drove a moving van from Toledo to SF last month. I seem to remember seeing a couple snow covered peaks off in the distance, but the roads were nowhere near them. Most of the time it didn't even feel like I was driving through mountains.
posted by GeekAnimator at 12:47 PM on July 20, 2007


Mountain passes do have extreme weather, and the possibility of snow in August is greater than zero. That being said, it's still pretty unlikely that *snow* will be a problem.

I'm assuming you're planning on taking 1-80. You'll need to keep an eye on the weather regardless- not to sound alarmist or anything, but I'd guess tornadoes in Iowa/Nebraska are probably at least as likely as snow in the mountains.

Not that any of that would stop me from making a similar drive at that time of year. AAA is your friend- if you don't belong now, you should join up before you go- they can give you good advice & planning tips.
posted by ambrosia at 12:49 PM on July 20, 2007


Via a conventional route, it seems unlikely that you will his snow in august.

If you choose an unconventional route, however, i can't make any promises.
posted by dersins at 12:52 PM on July 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


When choosing your route, I recommend you factor out snow entirely. As someone who has driven over Donner Pass on I80 in California hundreds of times, I can say that snow between Memorial Day and Labor Day is as rare as Halley's Comet. If you get caught in one in August, I donpedro, will personally send you a dollar.
posted by donpedro at 12:53 PM on July 20, 2007


It's the killer rain/thunderstorms you have to keep an eye on.
posted by lannanh at 1:06 PM on July 20, 2007


We hit snow in May in Utah, but by August you really should be fine. If you even see any close up, it'll be melty crap on the sides of the mountains.

The thunderstorms on the plains - and potential tornadoes, I suppose - can be scary as hell, though. I presume a torrential downpour in the mountains would also be ugly, because there are some evil grades in some areas. As a life long southern New Englander, I didn't know roads could really exist at those angles.

If you wait until the tank light comes on to refuel, that might be a problem. Refuel often, especially if your AAA maps (yes, join, it'll be worth it for the free maps) show big gaps of civilization. We almost got stranded because the sign said there was a gas station, but it didn't mention it was practically a goddamn archaeological site and not a place to actually get fuel.
posted by cobaltnine at 1:42 PM on July 20, 2007


I did I-80 both ways a couple years back, westward in May and eastward in August. No snow anywhere. A couple of really spectacular thunderstorms on the plains, but fortunately they were overnight when I wasn't driving.
posted by rkent at 2:15 PM on July 20, 2007


I drove I-80 westward in August about four years ago, and while there was no snow, there was some pretty spectacular hail in Wyoming.
posted by deeparch at 2:20 PM on July 20, 2007


you are approximately 1,000,000 times more likely to need air conditioning than snow tires taking 80 through the Sierras in August.
posted by fshgrl at 4:36 PM on July 20, 2007


But boy does the wind blow up there in Wyoming on I-80 in the summertime.
posted by rcavett at 10:55 PM on July 20, 2007


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