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Texas to Tacoma

Waco, Texas
Level Contributor
21 posts
Texas to Tacoma

My daughter's husband has been stationed in Washington and we will be driving her after Christmas. How is the weather? What will we need to get there safely? Our whole city shuts down if it flurries! Help!

Long Beach...
Level Contributor
60 posts
1. Re: Texas to Tacoma

Could be rain, (most likely) could be snow, could be both. Have absolutely NO idea what the December/January forecast will be. Sorry.

Bellingham...
Level Contributor
5,607 posts
109 reviews
2. Re: Texas to Tacoma

When I moved back to the PNW years ago I drove from Houston to Tacoma in January. Drove west on I-10 and north on I-5. Took 101 in northern CA, then back over to 5. Straight-forward route. : )

~ Colleen

Port Angeles, WA
Destination Expert
for Olympic National Park
Level Contributor
11,724 posts
20 reviews
3. Re: Texas to Tacoma

Buy tire chains and practice putting them on before you leave for the trip. They are absolute lifesavers on icy roads. Washington is not as big as Texas, but it is a big state with different climate zones. You will have to cross mountains, and you will definitely encounter snow. Follow the weather reports in real time on your computers during your trip. Get off the road and to a motel if heavy snow is predicted. Be prepared for very short days. In Western WA, it gets dark before 4:30 pm in December, the darkest month of the year.

Waco, Texas
Level Contributor
21 posts
4. Re: Texas to Tacoma

Goodness! Thank you for the advice. I am worried because we do not know how to drive in snow and ice!!

Waco, Texas
Level Contributor
21 posts
5. Re: Texas to Tacoma

Thank you! Just trying to get an idea on what to expect.

Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
984 posts
20 reviews
6. Re: Texas to Tacoma

When we moved back from Dallas, and when we moved our daughter back to Seattle from Nashville (over the past five years) we took the route Colleen mentioned (10 to 5). We also spent a good deal of time on 101 between LA & San Francisco. A very scenic and safe route, particularly at that time of year. Clean as a whistle in mid-February and in early January, respectively.

Bellingham...
Level Contributor
5,607 posts
109 reviews
7. Re: Texas to Tacoma

You will not "definitely" encounter snow. Nor will you "have to" cross mountains. With respect and apologies to kaleberg, such warnings are inaccurate. This isn't rocket science. Drive west, and drive north. Very simple & straightforward.

~ Colleen

Seattle, Washington
Destination Expert
for Seattle
Level Contributor
7,639 posts
8. Re: Texas to Tacoma

Generally speaking, stay as far south as possible to California, then follow US 101 up the Pacific Coast all the way through California and Oregon. The odds of sticking snow on the coast are very low. Follow the weather reports for Portland and Seattle, and if it's just rain (most likely) then you can cut in from the coast to the I-5 corridor on any road from OR 38 (at Reedsport) north. Cutting over earlier means you might encounter icy conditions at night on I-5 south of the Willamette Valley. And in the (remote) chance you DO encounter snow, stay put for a day; December snow in the lowlands usually lasts a day or two before being melted off by the rain. Don't be a hero.

Remember that daylight hours are going to be very short the farther north you go, so allow yourselves plenty of time, particularly once you're north of the San Francisco Bay area. Driving on 2-lane roads through the redwoods in the dark and rain is not a good idea.

Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
2,418 posts
4 reviews
9. Re: Texas to Tacoma

Chains are not for icy roads. They are for roads covered with snow and you will not need chains on I-5 99% of the time. By the way, it gets dark at 4:40 pm in LA in December, so exactly 30 minutes after Seattle.

Edited: 12 August 2017, 08:59
A B
Tacoma, Washington
Level Contributor
61 posts
11 reviews
10. Re: Texas to Tacoma

I would recommend driving west to California, then north to Washington via a more coastal route. The mountain passes in the Oregon and Washington Cascades get a lot of snow in the winter, enough to frequently close highways, usually through busy holiday weekends. The snow somehow knows when people will be travelling and plans accordingly! :) West of the Cascades will be more likely to see light rain than snow, and if you do encounter snow, it will likely be short-lived. Occasionally, we get a medium snow, and that closes things down for a day or two.

I concur with ibgardyloo's response. Also, chains will likely not be helpful. What would be more helpful is to budget an extra day or two for the unlikely event of snow or ice, and to follow the coastal route. Lack of daylight hours up here is a major bummer, but you'll just be driving through the dark evening like every other person who works a day shift and commutes to and from home.

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