Map, Compass & GPS

Map, Compass & GPS
Wild flowers along Fall Creek on the way to the Green Lakes - Oregon

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Backcountry Weather Forcasting

The web site has a super article about backcountry weather written by Laura Snider.  This post is right on the mark.

Meteorologist Joel Gratz is the source of reference for this post.  Key to the in the field forecasting is Gratz’s comment:

“…mitigating your chance of getting struck by lightning. If the temps drop a little bit, if the wind picks up, if it starts to precipitate, usually you have some time to extricate yourself from the situation.  But once the storm is close enough to produce lightning, you’re one bolt away from being injured or killed, and that can happen in a second.”

Those are words to remember.

Snider further breaks her post into subsections that makes so much sense:
  1. Before you go.
  2. In the field
  3. Back at home
Here are some of her recommendations.

Before you go:

  • Visit the to get point forecast.  Knowing the weather in the urban jungle won’t help much but this site provides point forecasts specific to the area.
  • Monitor the weather radar.
  • Visit with the locals before you head to the backcountry.
In the field:

  • Watch the western sky.  Weather systems move across the country going from west to east; the eastern sky is the history of what has been.
  • Know your cloud types.  Watch out for those cumulus clouds as they move in.  Cumulus clouds are large, white and quite puffy.  As they gain elevation watch their shape color.  A cloud that darkens and just look mean is a good indicator to look for shelter.

Personally, I also monitor my GPS receiver’s barometer.  I change my elevation plot to a pressure plot and leave the receiver on.  Even though a GPS receiver may not be the most accurate it is the plots trend over time that I am concerned about.  Should I see the pressure drop noticeably I’ll take shelter or return to my vehicle.

In some locations I may be able to monitor the NOAA weather channels on my portable radio.
The Internet weather sites are great but aren’t of much help in the backcountry where there is no cell reception.

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