Weather Prediction

Before heading out on a trip it is advisable to have a look at the weather forecast and to heed any warnings. I learned by experience several years ago to do that.


Case and Point:

I had purchased some trekking poles that I had wanted to try out. I knew that there was stormy weather announced but for later in the day around 6:00 pm approximately.


However, I still went out for a day hike on a mountain trail. While a distance away from the trailhead, I thought about turning around just in case the weather got bad and I get caught in it, but I didn't listen. I was stubborn and continued on, hoping to make it around the trail and back to the trailhead. I wanted it to be worth my time over there. Well, around 4:30 pm it hit with a lot of force. There were high winds, rain, thunder and lightning.


I put on a poncho but with a lot of difficulty because of the high winds. I then saw a flash of lightning as I looked down the trail. It seemed close enough. I prepared myself to get into the lightning position and did, but not for long. I got up and headed for the shelter that was perhaps 10 minutes away at a brisk pace. I had a map and had an idea where it was. I arrived at a campsite where there were a few small cabins and went into one of them.


I stayed there for awhile and attempted to make contact with the trailhead with my cellular. There was no signal and the battery went out shortly afterwards. I had an amateur radio transceiver with me and I was able to make contact with someone off the mountain.


When I realized that I wasn't in the shelter and that it was just a stone's throw away I went there instead. It was safer in the shelter than where I was. To make a long story short, I spent the night on the mountain in the shelter.


The lessons learned is that I needed to be wiser about heeding the weather forecasts, and that the weather can change quickly in a mountainous area. Technically I should have remained in the lightning position as well, and not have gotten up so quickly. I learned other things as well in the experience.


Have a look at the Severe Storms in Canada page for more information on lightning.


Given the power and ever-changing influence of nature, it is essential to be able to get a good estimate of the weather to come within the next 24 hours or so. There are signs that will indicate to you what to expect. The clouds, wind direction, barometric pressure and nature including plants, trees, animal and insect behavior may all give some clues.

Take the time to learn about clouds, their types and patterns, as well as how a change in wind direction may indicate in combination with other clues what sort of weather to expect.


This is an ongoing headache in a way of putting it. I have done some studying but I have a long way to go. There are just so many clouds and other things to learn.


However, I believe that it is worth making the effort given the importance of knowing what the weather may have in store for us.


There are weather radios or other electronic gadgetry that can also capture the weather reports if you are within range. Small portable 'weather stations' are available to, that tell you the barometric pressure, temperature, wind speed etc. Have a look here for an example of what exists on the market.


I see a few problems with having these gadgets however. It is similar to relying solely on GPS for navigation. If you run out of batteries, drop and damage the unit, lose it or forget to bring it along, you have no backup. The effects of weather changes can range from a minor inconvenience to succumbing to it and dying due to exposure related problems. In an emergency, if you have decided to break up camp and move to another location as discussed in the Roaming Survival page, you need to be certain that you are not leaving your safe haven that you had made for yourself and potentially wound up exposed to the full fury of a storm somewhere along the way.


Hypothermia is a real danger out there and it happens most frequently to people in air temperatures around 10˚ Celsius (50˚ Fahrenheit). It can happen in the summertime as well if the conditions are right. That is why it is important to dress properly and to protect yourself from the elements by building a shelter and making a fire if need be. If you have an emergency blanket or a tarp, you can can simply cover yourself and wait it out if there is no time to build a shelter. Use what you have on hand, and get away from any single tall trees and deadfalls to avoid potential problems from lightning and wind. Have a look at the Severe Storms in Canada page for more information.

If you have an emergency blanket or a tarp, you can can simply cover yourself and wait it out if there is no time to build a shelter.


Use what you have on hand, and get away from any single tall trees and deadfalls to avoid potential problems from lightning and wind.


Have a look at the Severe Storms in Canada page for more information.


There are 10 classifications for clouds with 3 main categories. They are classified by their appearance and altitude and are named using Latin words. There are many other types of clouds.

10 Classifications:

1. Cirrus

2. Cirrostratus

3. Cirrocumulus

4. Altostratus

5. Altocumulus

6. Stratus

7. Stratocumulus

8. Nimbostratus

9. Cumulus

10. Cumulonimbus


3 Main Categories:

1. Cirro

2. Alto

3. Stratus


A sign that the barometric pressure has dropped is when birds are flying low given it is harder to get some 'lift', or campfire smoke that doesn't wisp upwards but sort of 'hangs' above the fire. If you have a GPS receiver, it may give you a false reading by indicating that you are higher in elevation than you actually are. If you have a map you can check to see what the elevation is for your area, provided you are not lost of course.


Here are some links to help you learn more about weather predicting.

1. suite101.com

2. WW2010

3. Web Weather for Kids

Resources

How to Predict the Weather by Reading the Clouds
Clouds And Weather
Weather 101: A Tutorial on Cloud Types