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Knowing the Weather

In addition to terrain conditions, weather and temperature are the most important things to consider when determining what you will carry on your trip. In this article, we will provide some quick guidelines on weather and how you can stay informed on local weather conditions and temperature.

Perhaps the most common and potentially dangerous mistake is to take the weather for granted. Just because it is bright sunny when you leave your house, doesnt mean it is going to stay that way or that it is nice where you are heading.

Do not make the mistake of thinking that weather will not affect your performance. There is big difference between hiking in clear conditions on dry terrain and hiking the same path during a storm when the trail is muddy. Changes in weather and the weather-related changes to the terrain can easily double or triple the time it takes you to reach your desired destination.

The single most important rule before heading out is to check with local authorities. Each place has its own weather and weather changing characteristics. In mountainous area, conditions can change unexpectedly and the differences in temperatures and conditions can vary greatly. You should always check with local authorities the day you head out and ask for a prediction for the duration of your trip.

In general, the higher you go the colder it will be. As a rule of thumb, temperature decreases by about 3 degrees F for every 1000 feet of altitude gain. But do not rely on this rule of thumb as you only source of information. There are of course many circumstances that change this rule. Many local authorities will have information about the temperature on different altitudes and locations. Some of them even have websites providing the information you need.

Weather Changes
Be on the lookout for possible signs of trouble. Following are just a few ways of checking for changes in weather or possible bad conditions ahead:

  • Check the clouds. The speed and direction in which they move is an indication of windspeed and possible changes in weather.
  • Check for change in sky color. Along with cloud accumulation is an indicator of upcoming rains.
  • Check for tingling skin. A tingling sensation in your skin or the feeling that your hairs are standing up straight are indicators of lightening.
  • Check snow-capped mountain tops. If the wind speed is high on mountains summits, you will see a tail of snow streaming off of the summit.

If you have one, you can check your barometer for pressure changes and upcoming changes in weather.

Stay informed on local weather conditions and temperature. Knowledge about the conditions you are likely to face and preparing for those conditions is likely to keep to safe. Get out there and be safe!


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