Going on a mountain trek is something you can’t take too lightly. It’s a challenging activity that tests your physical limitations as you travel through rough terrain and may potentially be dangerous depending on the weather.
If you are a mountaineer, you need to know to read a mountain forecast to avoid any surprise the weather might impose on you. This is because experiencing weather changes at high altitudes can be detrimental to your safety. Here we provide many helpful and informative tips on how to read mountain forecasts, so share this article with your friends and family to let them know all the details.
Mountain Forecast Basics
There are many factors to consider whenever you head into the mountains, such as planning, logistics, training, and some others. However, there’s one thing that you can’t predict or control by yourself, and that’s the weather. Here are some of the basics on the things you need to look out for and the weather forecast sources you can use.
Long-term Mountain Forecasting
Weather forecasts only become accurate as it gets closer to the date you plan to go out. If you want to look for a forecast that’s more than 10 days ahead, it would be best to look for general trends in the area. Monthly temperature highs and lows and average precipitation are some indicators that can help you predict the weather you might experience.
Short-term Mountain Forecasting
You can use many resources to check the weather when you’re nearing the day of your trip, as the predictions become increasingly accurate. At this point, you can check out the temperature, chance of precipitation, wind speed, and more data depending on the source you use.
A website you can use to check the weather forecast is Mountain Forecast. It combines regional forecast models with historical data and local information to accurately predict the climate of the mountain you want to ascend. However, try to corroborate this data with a local weather monitoring station to get a more precise prediction.
Warnings and Weather Hazards
Checking whether there are currently any warnings in place on the mountain region you wish to ascend is an essential thing to do. Some sources, such as the Met Office Mountain Forecast for the United Kingdom, offer you information on the hazards you may encounter at altitudes at or above 300 meters. It also lets you know whether there’s currently a hazard in force.
Almost every mountain forecast resource provides you with a forecast table. This table usually shows you different parameters, which can vary depending on your source. They give you a detailed forecast for the days near and an accurate prediction for the following days. Wind speed, direction, gust, temperature, freezing level are some of the parameters you can find, and some let you check them at different elevations. Some sources also provide a short description of the current weather trend for the next few days.
If you want to quickly check out the weather forecast of the mountain you want to climb, you can look for a weather map. Mountain Forecast gives you multiple maps detailing different parameters for your chosen mountain region.
You can also use Windy, an accurate interactive weather forecast service that can provide you with nearly all the information you can find on a forecast table. However, it has a learning curve to it, but there isn’t a better tool to immediately find out the weather in any place worldwide.
Mountain Area Forecasts
If you are a mountaineer, a mountain hiker, or somebody taking part in any outdoor activity near mountainous areas, finding a reliable source for mountain area forecasts can be crucial. The previously mentioned sources like Mountain Forecast and Met Office Mountain Forecast are designed to meet most requirements. They’re easy to use and understand, allowing you to get the info you need quickly.
It’s a good idea to check the availability of the mountain area forecast service you use. For example, Mountain Forecast offers information for over 11000 summits all around the world. On the other hand, Met Office Mountain Forecast provides forecasts for the most visited areas in the United Kingdom, such as their national parks and highly frequented mountains.
Not many mountain forecast services provide direct data regarding hazards in mountainous areas. Sometimes it’s up to you to deduce if there’s any danger by referencing a forecast table or having a chat with the locals. That being said, Met Office Mountain Forecast has a section covering many hazards and the specific criteria for them. It also lets you know of the impact you can experience if you choose to ignore it.
Guide to Forecast Content
Some forecast content may look relatively complex at first sight, but most weather forecast service providers make it easy to understand. Regardless, there are some important things you have to look out for. The wind speed and direction, range of temperatures, whether it’s going to rain, and the mountain’s visibility are all relevant parameters to check in any forecast content.
Additional Tips and Facts about Mountain Forecasts
- If you plan to head into a mountain area, always try to cross-reference your sources whenever you can.
- The Mountain Forecast website may provide you with almost all the information you need, but you can never play it too safe.
- Check your local weather service website if you have one available, and check out its forecast as well.
- Remember that you can always ask a local in the area as they’re prone to understand the weather patterns of the place they live in.
It’s essential to read mountain forecasts whenever you’re planning a mountaineering expedition. Checking out the forecast of the location of your choosing using the relevant sources can help you prepare for the trek better. However, longer journeys may hinder your capacity to read the mountain forecast as they only accurately predict the weather on days near your trip. Help your friends be better prepared for their mountaineering adventures by sharing this guide on how to read mountain forecasts with them.