Know the Weather When You Take a Hike
Updated September 2, 2012
By WeatherBug Meteorologists
Autumn is here and it is one of the best times of the year ot head out for a hike in the mountains. Whether it`s in the mountains, woods, or even in a National Park, you need to watch the weather; it can change at a moment`s notice.
First and foremost, always check with WeatherBug or local authorities for a detailed forecast for the duration of your planned hike. Each place has its own terrain, and, therefore, has its own weather characteristics.
Conditions can unexpectedly change especially in the mountains, and the temperature can swing drastically. Remember the higher the altitude, the colder the temperature will be.
While hiking, be aware of any signs of changing weather conditions:
- Watch the clouds as well as the speed and direction at which they move. This is an indication of wind speed. Wind picks up speed as storm systems approach.
- A change in the sky color and increasing clouds could indicate coming rain
- Check snowy peaks at the top of the mountains. If there are high winds at or near the mountain tops, you will see a trail of snow flowing and drifting from the mountain top
- A tingling sensation in your skin or the feeling that you hair is sticking straight up is an indication of lightning. Find shelter immediately.
If you are stuck outside with no available shelter when a thunderstorm develops, there are several things that can be done. Stay low to the ground, making sure that other objects around you are easier targets. Stay away from steep slopes, mountain tops or ridges. It is better to be on flatter surfaces. Sit on something that could act as an insulator, like a backpack, with your feet off the ground. If an insulator is not available, get in a crouching position with only your feet touching the ground.
High winds are another potential hazard of hiking during a storm. It is best to seek shelter when high winds develop. Make sure the shelter is sturdy enough that it doesn`t collapse under the force of the wind. Also be sure that you are out of the way of any flying or falling debris that is blowing around. Avoid the mountaintops, cliff sides and rock faces. These areas are most prone to blowing debris during windstorms.
Although it may be a beautiful sunny day when you embark on your journey, never take the weather for granted as you never know when conditions will change. When you`re out hiking in the great outdoors this summer, the changing weather conditions can instantly turn a nice adventure into a nightmare you`d like to forget.
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