The Northwest of the U.S. is a varied region with just about every weather pattern imaginable. Away from the coast, it is sparsely populated and you do need to be prepared to be self-reliant if you are driving anywhere long distance.
It’s smart to look at the weather forecast before you set out and make sure you have sufficient safety gear to suit the conditions you might expect to experience.
The Northwest Regional Climate for Motorists
Two parallel mountain ranges and proximity to the sea can determine the climate in the Northwest as well as the season.
West of the Cascades, it can be wet, sometimes very wet, especially in winter. East of the Cascades and the Rockies it is a lot drier and the temperatures are more extreme, colder in winter and hotter in summer. Temperatures are less extreme on the Pacific Coast.
Everywhere there are huge differences between the mountains and the lowlands. The Rocky Mountain states of Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Utah can be snowbound in winter, while the Oregon and Washington coasts are mild and damp at the same time.
What Your Northwest Auto Emergency Kit Should Look Like
Breakdowns can happen anywhere. If you are on a long journey away from a city or suburbs in the North West, you could be in for a long wait if you are waiting for mechanical help or a tow after a crash involving a deer, being run off the road, or other types of accidents. It pays to be prepared for every eventuality.
Every motorist should have the following:
- cell phone charged before you set out and 12V auto charger;
- set of 3 reflective triangles to place in front and rear of your car to alert other motorists;
- spare tire and jack for changing it; tire pressure valve and foot pump; can of emergency sealant (usually only seals once);
- basic tool kit with wrenches, screwdrivers, pliers;
- spare oil, transmission fluid, and brake fluid;
- spare 2 gallon gas canister;
- jumper cables.
Seasonal Emergency Gear
In a Northwest summer, also pack the following:
- drinking water, enough for at least 8 hours;
- rain ponchos.
If traveling in winter, your kit should also contain:
- snow shovel;
- cable and winch for pulling car out of snow drift;
- bag of cat litter which can be used to place under tires for better grip;
- snow chains for all tires;
- winter clothing and footwear;
- windscreen ice scraper;
- adequate blankets or sleeping bags to keep you warm if the gas tank runs dry or you can’t start your engine too run your heater;
- non-perishable high calorie food.
Don’t Take Driving in the Northwest for Granted!
Driving can be hazardous when the rain is pouring down on the Pacific Northwest coast or you are snowbound on a Montana mountain road. Are you prepared for a lengthy wait in the freezing cold?
If not, make sure you stock your trunk with everything you need for an emergency.