Snippet: Chasing 70 degrees – I don’t know who coined the term “Chasing 70 degrees” but it is a very accurate description of where we want to go and when we want to be there. The phrase “chasing 70 degrees” refers to average temperature. The earliest reference to the phrase I could find was in 2009, more than ten years ago. A full website was dedicated to the phrase in 2014. One of my friends wrote an article on the subject in 2018. Hebard’s Travels
My bet is that full-time RVers were using the phrase “Chasing 70 degrees” decades before that. A little cooler at night and a little warmer in the day. Not too hot, not too cold. Just like a potted plant.
Snippet: Chasing 70 degrees – How we pick where to be
Temperature is probably the number one overruling criteria. RVs (nearly all RVs) are just not built to handle all temperatures. We have some friends that camp in RVs in the snow, in the winter, but it is not for us. Not when alternatives exist and are so available. The number two criteria is that we don’t want to sit in one spot. We are travelers — even though we are slow travelers. We don’t race across the country multiple times per year. In three years we have still not made it out of the west.
Elevation has a lot to do with temperature, both in the summer and winter. Even though the change in elevation is small, Death Valley (below sea level) is lower and hotter than Yuma. Yuma is nearly at sea level. Las Vegas is almost two thousand feet above Yuma, and almost a thousand feet above Phoenix. Saint George is three thousand feet above Yuma. So in terms of heat, both summer and winter, the order is Death Valley, Yuma, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Saint George. All are blazing hot in the summer and all are warm in the winter — but the order remains the same.
The scientific term is Lapse Rate, and it is averaged scientifically at 3.5 degrees per thousand feet. So if you were to start at sea level at 90 degrees, then Phoenix would be expected to be 86 degrees and Las Vegas would be expected to be 83 degrees. Saint George at 79. Of course, the temperature is highly affected by the neighborhood so you can’t perfectly predict temperature by elevation alone.
To make things even more confusing, your temperature is directly related to the neighborhood. In this list, Las Vegas is closest to Death Valley. Death Valley has a large influence on the temperature in Las Vegas especially since dominant airflow is from northwest to southeast. I don’t think that this is a surprise to anyone. The entire southeast of the country is both hot and humid all summer. The entire southwest is extremely hot and dry (except for thunderstorms) all summer. Yet there are exceptions; the Atlantic Ocean makes the eastern seaboard much warmer in the winter than would be expected. This is due to the moderating influence of the warm water flowing northward along the coast.
All of this heat, which is not evenly distributed, typically creates a high-pressure area that sits over the Mojave/ Sonoran Desert for most of the year. Weaker cold fronts, which could bring cooler temperatures to the region break down and heat up before they can decrease temperatures. It takes a strong cold front, like the bomb cyclone of 2019 to really get the temperatures to drop. During the bomb cyclone, we had six inches of snow, south of Tombstone. This was a real surprise. Only Yuma was safe from this “winter hurricane”.
The elevation is more important than latitude (how far north or south you are) when avoiding the heat You will find that we plan to go north and up in the summer, and both lower elevation and south in the winter. We are not alone plenty of snowbirds have this figured out. Lake Superior is much colder than the same elevation in Alabama all due to being further north. Virginia is at the same latitude as Colorado, both get snow. Virginia in December is nearly 30 degrees warmer than the mountains in Colorado — most all of this is because of elevation.
Mostly our planning to chase 70 degrees is based on historical data. Of course, where we want to go is mostly based both on temperature. We want to go to new places, but mostly we want to go to new nice places — when they are nice.
It is not hard to pick a location in May for nice weather. All you have to do is avoid the very same locations that are attractive in January. Avoid southern Arizona, south Texas, and south Florida, are all hot starting in May. We departed Las Vegas on the first 100-degree day of the year, April 28th.
The mountains in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho are all on the cool side in May. In 2019 we waited to cross into eastern Colorado until the first of May. Still then two weeks later we had a threat of snow in Colorado Springs. One week later we visited the mountains, near Rocky Mountain National Park. The name for the mountain range there is “The Never Summer Range”. It can and will snow in mid-July — frequently.
Snippet: Chasing 70 degrees — Tools
The number one tool I use to determine a location based on temperature is based on climate data collected over the last thirty years. The website is here: Climate Use the slider bars to change the month and you get a very nice picture to examine which locations that you should expect to find us each month.
Temperature; where will it be hot in August? Everywhere, except perhaps in southwest Colorado or northwest Wyoming. Or better said, it won’t be as hot in southwest Colorado. In Texas, there is no escaping the heat — except to go to Colorado. Remember when looking at the temperature chart, it does not include humidity which increases the misery in the southeast.
How about warm in the winter? In January the three warmest places in the nation are in southern Arizona, south Texas, and south Florida.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) forecasts, you guessed it hurricane activity. One time I plotted historic hurricane paths across Florida guessing that northern Florida was safe (it was only less risky). This picture breaks down the frequency by county. Notice that Miami and New Orleans have the same frequency of hurricanes. Off the map to the north, you would see that the coastline in Maine has the same frequency of tropical storms as does Jacksonville. Frequency and intensity are also not the same things. Tropical Storms in Maine are not like tropical storms in Miami.
Based on hurricanes you probably wouldn’t expect to find us in either Miami or New Orleans in the fall. However, spring is a real possibility. Summer is too hot and again you don’t really want to be in the south in the summer, too hot and too much humidity.
Hurricanes are not the only storms you might want to avoid. This map makes a good argument to avoid Kansas and Oklahoma in June.
Earthquakes, now that is off the subject, but might as well cover it. Unlike the weather, earthquakes happen without notice. Typically in the west. There is not an earthquake season. Even if you are not as affected by earthquakes, as much as you would be in a fixed structure, we have some built-in advantages to soak up the tremor: tires, springs, and shock absorbers all would help. But we are not immune to earthquake damage, we have leveling supports that lift the RV on hydraulic jacks when we park. An earthquake could easily damage these jacks. Since you can’t predict an earthquake, it is not like we could lift the jacks in preparation for the big one. The biggest problem with earthquakes is that they ruin the neighborhood.
Snippet: Chasing 70 degrees — Planning
We now have ten articles on the subject of planning and perhaps this should have been the first. Chasing 70 degrees is a big deal for us. The other articles are more nuts and bolts details. Here is a link to all the posts in the planning series: Planning