Hiking and weather

I am pretty much a fair weather hiker myself; however, some people might like to hike in several types of weather. If you are a die-hard all-weather type hiker, proceed with caution when it comes to weather. There are many different types of weather to look out for or prepare for when going for a hike. Any of the mentioned weather events in this article could at least turn a great hike into a bad day. Therefore, if you love hiking so much that the weather does not slow you down, at least pay attention to the forecast so you know what to expect.

Since we are coming out of the winter season let us start with types of winter weather that could affect your hike. The main four things in the winter to be concerned about are cold, rain, snow and wind. If you are hiking in the winter there is a good chance it is going to be cold; however, how cold and how quickly that cold sets in will be important information to know. Snow is also a possibility in the winter some places more than others but here in northern Nevada there is a good chance of snow especially in the higher elevations. Rain is also a common weather event in the winter in some places mainly a summer event in other areas. Wind is common at all times of the year here in Nevada but in the winter it plays a role in making weather impacts more extreme.

Summer weather has some of the same conditions such as rain and wind but also the added twists of heat and lightening. Extreme heat can be a normal event here and may not have an impact on your decision to hike if your hike is early in the day or early evening. Lightening can happen with any storm especially in the summer and sometimes there is not a lot of warning. The wind and rain have some of the similar impacts to your hike in the summer that they do in the winter, making your hike less enjoyable.

All of these weather conditions could have a significant impact on your hike. Extreme cold could cause issues such as hypothermia or frostbite. Heat could cause heat exhaustion, heat stroke, sunburn, or dehydration just to name a few. Wind has a variety of impacts from being annoying to blowing debris to worst-case scenario of spreading a fire too fast for you to react. The main things with rain and snow are clothes getting wet and slippery trails but could cause avalanches, mudslides or flashfloods as well. Lightening can kill you but it also more commonly starts wildfires that would put a damper on any hike. The main thing to take away is all of these weather events are possible and might make your hike miserable if you are not prepared.

A few things you can do to prepare for the weather: know the area you are going, check the weather, and wear proper attire. There are several good weather sites or apps for your smart device to help check the weather ahead of time and while on the hike. The Weather Channel and AccuWeather are two sites that I use when preparing for outdoor activity. Those two and many others also have apps for your smart device and can be set up to provide alerts, which could be helpful while hiking. It is exciting to go hike in an area that you have not previously explored, but it is important to understand how the weather may escalate danger in the area. In a previous post I discussed the importance of proper clothing for the hike this is extremely important in regards to mitigating any weather impacts.

Be safe out there, enjoy the hike, and watch the weather.

Photo taken by the author on top of Mount Rose

One thought on “Hiking and weather

  1. Pingback: Hiking situational awareness – Hike for health with Shaun Cruze

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