The weather has a profound effect on the environment. When considering venturing into the outdoors, whether that be for a walk with the dog, a climb up a mountain or spending time in or on the water, knowing what the weather might be doing and understanding how it will affect your planned activity is a key priority to making your good day better.
Check previous weather conditions for the location of your planned activity.
Having identified when and where you are planning to go and what you are planning to do, it’s worth checking the previous weather conditions so that you have an idea of the weather’s effects on your planned environment: Has it been raining? Have any storms passed through? Have there been any flood warnings? What are the impacts of any of these on your planned activity?
Check the current and forecasted weather conditions for the duration and location of your activity, including the mountain areas & summits and coastal & sea areas.
Don’t get caught out because you checked the forecast for your setting off point but not for the summit of the mountain you want to climb, or you checked the morning forecast but not the afternoon and missed the storm that’s approaching. As we all know, the weather changes rapidly here in the UK so keeping a close eye on the current weather conditions and updating as frequently as possible will mean to you are as prepared as you can be for what is coming your way and able to make suitable and appropriate decisions regarding your intended plan. It’s ok to choose a more suitable route or to turn back.
The most important weather related things that could affect your planned activity are:
- Wind speed and direction – strong winds can make conditions feel considerably colder and may reduce onward progress in any environment, making many activities much more hazardous
- Temperature – knowing the temperature will help with choosing the most suitable clothing to wear and items to carry, just in case. Sun protection if it’s hot; lots of layers if it’s cold.
- Precipitation (rain, hail, snow etc.) – whether forecasted or not, it’s always worth carrying waterproof clothing. The environment conditions are also affected by precipitation e.g. slippery rocks, waterlogged paths, raised water levels in rivers and lakes etc.: walking boots would assist in maintaining good grip as well as keeping your feet dry on land, whilst postponing your watersport adventure until water levels have dropped may be the best option.
- Visibility – low cloud, mist and fog will certainly reduce your ability to see your planned route, in which case, why not alter your plans to keep under the cloud base for better views and easier route finding or postpone until the visibility improves.
- Height at sea level and above – whether at sea level or on a mountain summit, the previous and current weather will either have had or is having a significant effect e.g. strong winds across open seas are likely to present a choppy sea state both out to sea and along the coastline; for every 200m of ascent in the mountains, air temperature decreases by 1-2oC so you might be enjoying a sunny, dry and wind free day at sea level but the mountain tops are likely to be very different. Be prepared for all eventualities.