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Good to go?

Old 11-12-22, 08:08 AM
  #1  
denis_987
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Good to go?

I will be in Texas (mcAllen region) at the beginning of December.
Is it a good time (weather) to go east on the ACA Southern Tiers route up to Key West (FL)?
Am I wrong to guess that I will get snow if I go west instead?

I am planning to go south (Mexico-Panama) but would like first to test my set-up up to KeyWest or SanDiego if possible.

Last edited by denis_987; 11-12-22 at 08:23 AM. Reason: add information
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Old 11-12-22, 09:09 AM
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One thing I like to do for queries like this is use weatherspark to look at historical averages. Here for example is a comparison of one spot on the way heading west (Las Cruces) vs. one spot on the way heading east (Mobile) - https://weatherspark.com/compare/y/1...and-Las-Cruces[*]

My general expectation would be that heading west is colder and drier, particularly in some of the high desert areas. I also expect a higher day/night range so westbound you might get a below freezing cold but then warm up to 50-60F during the day. It can snow but my odds would put it slightly lower than 50/50.

In contrast, going east you have more chance of a cold wet day or two.

Over the last years, I've taken a few winter trips over the week between Christmas and New Years. For example, in 2019, I took Amtrak to Tuscon and then cycled from there to El Paso. Most of the days were fine but right at the end we had a cold front come through. It snowed just slightly with a strong westerly wind the last night before I reached El Paso - https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/22685 In 2018 and 2014, I went north instead and cycled from Brownsville TX up north to Austin. Nice temperatures most days but also a strong cold front with slightly freezing temperatures coming into Austin in 2014. I cycled "Christmas Ride" five times when they did it out of San Diego. Our route carried us up to ~6000ft - a little higher than the ~4500ft of Southern Tier but we had temperatures close to freezing most years and a snowfall one of the years.

I haven't done quite as much further east, but did cycle Florida between Fort Myers and Daytona Beach round trip on two winter breaks. Mostly very pleasant temperatures though one of the years we also have a cool 40F wind blowing. I was fortunate without as much moisture on those trips.

Overall, if you have some flexibility to stay put a day or two to let the worst of some weather pass - then either direction should be fine. I would expect heading east to be slightly warmer also with slightly higher probability of precipitation.
[*] Another weatherspark point westbound is Silver City, NM - https://weatherspark.com/y/3086/Aver...tes-Year-Round This is near the continental divide and one of the higher spots along the route (assuming you avoid the pass and go via Deming). You can see average night temperatures just a little below freezing and a small amount of snow on average during the month of December.

Last edited by mev; 11-12-22 at 09:32 AM.
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Old 11-14-22, 05:08 AM
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indyfabz
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ACA!s description of the route on its website addresses the topic of the best time to go.
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Old 11-14-22, 06:58 AM
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Riding the whole ST in winter is possible with some chance of snow delays. I started in San Diego in mid February and finished in Pensacola in Mid March. I had decent weather the whole way. I only saw a little snow on the roadside on the top of a couple passes and none on the road. Locals said the previous year I'd have had a few days of delay due to snow. There was frost a lot of nights, but most days quickly warmed to at least 50 and usually warmer. Basically it was pretty nice. It got really cold only one night (18F on my thermometer).

In December I'd expect similar temps, but much shorter days. Check weatherspark to be sure. I chose Spring for the longer daylight hours.
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Old 11-16-22, 07:19 PM
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Thanks for the weatherspark website... didn't know about it

Well, Maybe I should go directly south and adjust my setup on my way there...
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