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Take a yearlong road trip where the weather is perfect

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Imagine a yearlong, cross-country road trip with perfect weather - seem impossible?

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

Well, climate scientist Brian Brettschneider in Anchorage, Alaska, has mapped out a way - in fact, several ways - that follow 70-degree weather year-round.

BRIAN BRETTSCHNEIDER: As a climate scientist, I'm always looking for ways to connect people with climate data. I think most people have done road trips in their life. People have gotten in a car or a camper or a train, and they've watched the world pass by. So this is a way to kind of reinvigorate a road trip in a way that people really haven't ever really thought about before.

SHAPIRO: The first maps came out in 2015, when Brettschneider was a faculty researcher at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. He was analyzing how temperature changed throughout the year when he noticed something interesting.

BRETTSCHNEIDER: Pretty much, somewhere in the U.S. was always 70 degrees at any given time during the year.

SHAPIRO: So just for fun...

BRETTSCHNEIDER: I threw some lines on a map and connected them to the highways and put it out there.

SUMMERS: One for the lower 48, which ran 9,000 miles long, and another that was a 13,000-mile version, which included parts of Canada and Alaska. With these maps, you would start your road trip on January 1 in South Texas and chase the perfect weather northeast. So you're in Washington, D.C., by the end of April and then head back west and end the year in San Diego.

SHAPIRO: And these maps really resonated with people - so much so that fans asked him to update the maps when new climate data came out. And last month, he finally did.

SUMMERS: The major differences are that the journey now starts in California instead of South Texas. The weather itself hasn't drastically changed in eight years, but it is something he's thinking about.

BRETTSCHNEIDER: The world is warming. The United States is warming. Canada is warming. And what's going to happen is these lines - you know, if you think of these as lines on a map, they'll shift over time. Right now, we're able to put a route through Canada in the summertime. But as it warms up, maybe it's just too warm to find a route that's 70 degrees through Canada in the summertime.

SHAPIRO: So far, Brettschneider hasn't heard of anyone actually attempting one of his road trips. He hasn't done it himself, either.

BRETTSCHNEIDER: Perhaps someday - it's a road trip that is best suited to someone who is retired, and I'm still quite a ways away from retirement. So who knows? Maybe, when I retire, things will have warmed to the point where maybe there's not a 70-degree route anymore.

SUMMERS: So if you're still looking for weekend plans, like I am, the newest routes suggest Massachusetts or Minnesota.

SHAPIRO: Convenient - I'll be in Rhode Island.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BORN TO BE WILD")

STEPPENWOLF: (Singing) Get your motor running. Head out on the highway. Looking for adventure... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Karen Zamora
[Copyright 2024 NPR]
Justine Kenin
Justine Kenin is an editor on All Things Considered. She joined NPR in 1999 as an intern. Nothing makes her happier than getting a book in the right reader's hands – most especially her own.

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