The Road and Regional Weather

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The weather described in the novel The Road was bleak - clouds, rain, ashfall, some snow. The clouds were almost a separate character in the novel!

The weather in Western Pennsylvania in winter matched that, except for the ashfall. Our region is one of the cloudiest places in the country, especially in the winter.

In the early '00s, we didn't have all that much snow over the winter months. We tended to have more cold rain. The last couple of years, we've had light snow for most of Janaury and February. Our immediate region doesn't tend to get that much snow all at once. We had a couple of substantial snowfalls in 1993 and 1994, but, since then, we had maybe one 9" snowfall. We're south of the Great Lakes snowbelt, and a little too far west to get frequent snowfalls from Atlantic winter storms. But, Western Pennsylvania can have snow flurries any time from October through April.

Mid June 2008 Postscript: During the first part of filming in Western PA (late-February-early April), the weather was mostly cloudy, cool, rainy. And then the sun came out. We had beautiful May weather during most of April. About the time the weather turned really nice in the Pittsburgh area, they were shooting interiors in a warehouse in town (reportedly, the bunker scenes). The next week, at Conneaut Lake Park and on Lake Erie, the weather was cool and breezy, but still nicer than usual. The cast and crew left for Oregon in early May. And then, the weather turned crappy (it was pretty awful in eastern Oregon, too). We had cool, rainy April weather for most of May. In late May, summer hit Western Pennsylvania. The weather since about May 20 has been sunny, and since it was so damp over the winter, Western Pennsylvania has gone from being a post-apocalyptic wasteland to being almost tropically green. I won't make the joke about maybe global warming is a good thing for us, because it isn't a good thing for most of the rest of the world.

Since so much of the action of the book took place outdoors, I tracked local weather conditions from late February through late April 2008. Later, the curious can compare the recorded weather against scenes from the movie, to try to figure out when the location footage was shot.

The conditions described were for the Pittsburgh area. When they shot location footage in the Alleghenies, there was generally more snow on the ground, it was usually a little colder and often it was windier.

DateHi TempsCloudsPrecipWindComments
5/360sFsomesome rainlikely the last day of filming in Pennsylvania
5/270sFsomesome rain, possible thunderstormsbreezy
5/160sFsomebreezyConneaut Lake Park filming began
4/2840sFlotsalmost non-stop rain"The Road" weather returned; possible snow flurries around Erie tonight
4/2760sFsunny, few cloudsbreezy
4/2670sFhigh clouds, possible showersbreezy
4/2570sFhigh clouds, possible showersbreezy
4/2470sFmostly sunnybreezyalways breezy on Lake Erie!
4/2360sFpartly cloudy, afternoon thunderstormsbreezy
4/2260sFmostly sunnybreezy
4/2160sFpartly cloudywindy
4/1970sFsunny early, clouds lateshowers latebreezy
4/1870sFsunny/high clouds
4/1770sFsunny/high cloudsincredible weather for us...but not for post-apocalyptic America!
4/1660sFsunny/high clouds
4/1550sFsunny/high cloudsTax Day
4/1440sFsunny/high cloudsa week of dry, warm weather - unusual for this time of year
4/1340sFcloudyshowerybreezyflurries overnight; accumulated north of Pittsburgh
4/1250sFpartly sunny early, then cloudyscattered showerswindy
4/1160sFcloudsrain/thunderstorms on and offwindy eveningback to early spring!
4/1060sFhigh clouds
4/960sFcloudymidday showersbreezypossible thunderstorms
4/1060sFsunny morningafternoon showers
4/960sFcloudy, sun latemorning showersbreezy
4/860sFsunny, some high cloudsbreezy
4/760sFsunny, some high cloudsbreezyfirst day of baseball season
4/660sF(!)sunny, some high cloudsbreezygood news for spring-lovers!
4/550sFhigh clouds, some sun latebreezy
4/350sFsunny early then cloudylate showers
3/3150sFcloudyscattered showersbreezy
3/3050sFsunny early, cloudy laterbreezy
3/2840sFcloudyheavy rain overnight
3/2740sFcloudyscattered light showersheavy fog late--oh wait, was that just "W"? massive traffic jam during rush hour due to his visit; lucky us
3/26low 50sFmostly sunnybreezy
3/2540sFsunnylight rain lategusty winds after noon
3/24low 40sFsunny early, cloudy latersnow flurries
3/23high 30sFsunny, high clouds3"-5" of snow on ground north of Pittsburgh
3/2230sFcloudslight snowAbout 10 mph3"-5" of new snow north of Pittsburgh
3/2140sFsunny early, cloudy lateAbout 5 mph
3/2030sFodd orange thing in the sky some of the timesnow flurriesAbout 10-20 mph with higher gustsfirst day of spring - HA! - vivid full moon at night
3/1950sFwall-to-wall cloudsmore rain (torrential at times, possible flooding north of Pittsburgh)About 10-20 mph maybe even a thunderstorm
3/1850sFmore cloudsmore rainAbout 10 mph, some gusty winds
3/17high 40sFthe sun is rumored to return About 10 mph
3/16high 30sFcloudy About 10 mph
3/15high 40sFfoggy morning, overcast all day lots of drunks on the South Side today - oh, wait, that's not weather (post-St. Patrick's Parade)
3/14low 50sFcloudyshowerslight winds
3/1350s-60sFsunnydry all daygusty windsnicest day in a very long time
3/1240sFcloudy morning, sunny late afternoon light winds
3/1140sFpartly cloudy light winds
3/1030sFcloudylight snow/rainlight windsbare ground
3/920sFpartly cloudy - sunny light winds2" snow on ground
3/830sFheavy cloudsice, slush, snowwinds 15-20mph (later)icy ground - at least no freezing slush out there til after I got home from work
3/730sFheavy cloudsafternoon rainwinds 5-8mphbare ground, about an hour of torential rain, more snow tonight into Saturday
3/640sFthin cloudsno rainwinds 5-8mphbare ground
3/530sFcloudy, foggysporadic rains, flooding, snow meltgusty winds 20-30mphmost snow gone, more of the same
3/430sFcloudy, foggyheavy rains, flooding, snow melt5mphpatchy snow; all of southern Pennsylvania will have heavy rain; it's going to be a miserable few days to film outside
3/360sFsunnymore snow melt5mphabout 2" snow on ground
3/240sFsunnysome snow melt5mphabout 3" snow on ground
3/1low 30sFpartly cloudymaybe 1/2" more snow10-15mphabout 5" snow on ground
2/2920-36Fsunny, then clouds and fog3" snow, rain, slush, ice10-15mphabout 5" snow on ground, an awful day to be outside
2/2810sFvariable, then sunnynone10-15mph about 2" snow on ground
2/2720sFhigh cloudsnone5 mphabout 2" snow on ground