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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Keeping a weather eye....

Unfortunately none of us live in an area where there is perfect weather all year, and regardless of how much we plan the weather will always be a factor in the great outdoors.  I previously posted weather applets for various points of interest in the U.S. and while these are a good place to indicate when the best time to go and find that next grand adventure we must first and foremost be able to read the weather while we're out on the trail, water, or even driving.

While I'm not going to go into the specifics on telling you how to read the weather at this time (mainly because I feel that knowledge learned is better than knowledge given) I would implore you to take the time to learn if you haven't already.  There are many ways that you can go about this and with the technology boom that we've had over the past decade it has made this information literally available at our finger tips.  When it comes to trusting my well-being I like to keep it simple.  Just think of the old adage "All skill is in vain when an angel pisses in the flintlock of your musket."  Meaning that no matter how good you think you are with all the gadgets and gizmo's they require recharging.  So the best bet, in my humble opinion, is to read up on what signs to look for and use that in combination with something like Casio's Pathfinder solar rechargeable watch.  As the name states the watch face as small solar panels in it that are recharged by light (natural or otherwise).  On top of that it resets itself automatically by the atomic clock's radio signal, has a digital compass, altimeter, temperature, and barometer sensors built into it.... and it tells the time.  I realize this may sound like a shameless ploy to buy a watch, which it may be.  However, I have found that the barometer feature of this watch has given me ample warning ahead of any NOAA alerts that foul weather is afoot, and being in prime tornado country that can be the difference between safety and being caught with your pants down.

Here are some things to keep in mind if you want to take a short cut from reading through hundreds of pages of useful information:

  • A dropping barometric reading will typically indicate worsening weather.
  • A shelf cloud, no matter how awe inspiring, IS NOT YOUR FRIEND.  (These occur when a warm moist air mass meets a cold air mass forcing the cold air mass under the warm air mass resulting in the potential for tornadic weather.
  • Large anvil shaped clouds with a "beaver tail" are also not your friend.
  • High temps will suck the water out of you.... hydrate! hydrate! hydrate!  Once you have a heat stroke/exhaustion you become more susceptible to it time and time again.  Know your limits.
  • Conversely, just because it is cold out doesn't mean you don't have to keep hydrated.
  • High altitude fluffy white clouds in the winter are typically a good indication of snow.
Want to know more?  Take the time to research it, learn it, and learn how to apply it.  The SAS survival manual is a good place to start and not for just military/militia types who think it's a cool book to have because it's by a guy who was in the SAS.  Knowledge is power.

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