Nevada has more than 49,000 miles of roads, streets, and major highways. Because of Nevada's mountainous terrain, desert, and Great Basin climate, it's not just smart, it's imperative to be informed about both highway conditions and weather before venturing far from civilization. This is particularly true in the winter when severe weather can shut down both major and secondary highways. And being surprised by a blizzard in the mountains when it's dry at the lower elevation you started off from is not something anyone said they wanted to do ever.
Before you head out on a long drive through Nevada and/or California, there are ways to make sure you're not driving straight into bad weather. The state provides many resources to check road conditions, so you can decide whether or not it is safe to drive.
Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT)
Before you head out in Nevada, check out updated road and weather conditions and road closings on the Nevada Department of Transportation's NDOT 511 road conditions report.
You will find a color-coded map of Nevada that will tell you locations of road construction, adverse driving conditions, and closed roads. The map will also indicate places where there is a wind warning (vehicles over nine feet high should use caution) and where there are high winds (vehicles over nine feet high prohibited). Roads where chains or snow tires are required will also be marked. Sometimes every car will need chains, but if your car has four-wheel drive, you might not need them. It will also give you a head's up on traffic all across the state.
California Department of Transportation (Caltrans)
If you're driving in California, many of the same concerns apply. The Caltrans road information page is a valuable tool that gives you the latest road information. Say you are about to travel on U.S. 395 from Reno into California. You enter "U.S. 395" in the highway search box, click "search," and you will get a page of the latest updates on road and traffic conditions for that highway all across the state. On this website, you'll also find links for travel information all across the U.S., how to report a maintenance issue, maps, road conditions statewide, weather reports, traffic incidents statewide, and locations of roadside rest areas.
Weather Forecast and Warnings
Typically, the weather is the primary cause of headaches on a road trip. Besides getting all the road condition information that you can, it's also a good idea to know what's going on weather-wise and what is forecast for several days out, so you can avoid any bad situations in the future on your trip.