In some areas of the world the weather can change in an instant. I do a lot of desert hiking, and I’ve experienced a 60 degree drop in weather within a matter of hours. The great outdoors are not something to be taken lightly.
Pay attention to weather forecasts.
Before setting out on any hike, you need to find out what weather conditions you will most likely encounter on your trip.
Sites like Weather.com and www.noaa.gov can be extremely helpful for reviewing forecasts, and can help you plan your route several days in advance. For longer hikes, you can look at historical data and trends to give you an idea of what weather is common along your route. Study the common weather conditions along your routes. Are there tornadoes? Flash floods? High heat?
Packing the Right Gear
Prevention is often the key to staying out of trouble while hiking; part of that prevention should be planning for bad weather. Once you know what type of weather to expect, you need to make sure you have the right type of gear to face each possible weather related problem.
- Do you have waterproof gear and shelter materials? In areas where rain is possible, at minimum you should be carrying an emergency rain poncho.
- Are you prepared for fluctuations in temperature? Weather related problems like Heat Exhaustion and Hypothermia can quickly turn into a life threatening situation; don’t underestimate the risks of hiking in bad weather.
- Do you have a weather radio to keep track of changes while hiking? Because weather can change so quickly, a small weather radio might be something you should consider packing.
Don’t take Weather The Lightly!
When deciding what to bring on your hike, ask yourself what you would need to survive the worst possible conditions that might be encountered on this trip. Having a little bit of extra clothing is a lot better than not having enough. And even if the forecast calls for a bright and sunny day, it still might be a good idea to pack something for those freak storms that can pop out of nowhere.