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Planning for the Weather

Discussion related to Sierra Nevada current and forecast conditions, as well as general precautions and safety information. Trail conditions, fire/smoke reports, mosquito reports, weather and snow conditions, stream crossing information, and more.
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Planning for the Weather

Postby maverick » Fri Jun 08, 2012 5:07 pm

Would like to hear how members prepare for there up coming trips when it comes to
the weather.

1. You just go without checking the weather, and deal with happens.( Hope nobody
does this one).

2. You check the NWS site to see if anything is coming in for the first few days or
check the board at the ranger stations.

3. You do the above, and also check the long range forecast online.


4. You do all of the above, also check the local forecast (like Mammoth), also
check the weather patterns that may possibly effect you a couple or several
days in (like a hurricane off the coast of Baja).

What are you favorite resources when it comes to predicting the weather for your
trips? If your are a little more involved with this the the average backpacker please
share how you go about gathering your 411.
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Re: Planning for the Weather

Postby snusmumriken » Fri Jun 08, 2012 6:01 pm

I check Dennis Mattinsons forecast for the Eastern Sierra here
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Re: Planning for the Weather

Postby rlown » Fri Jun 08, 2012 9:34 pm

+1 on Dennis' reports.. and the webcams.. Still, when you see the dragon's breath on the water, you know you're in for it, regardless of the forecast.
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Re: Planning for the Weather

Postby SandStorm » Fri Jun 08, 2012 10:50 pm

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Re: Planning for the Weather

Postby freestone » Sat Jun 09, 2012 6:17 am

Never number 1. I see no wisdom in hauling around heavy 4 season gear during an extended fair weather pattern. I focus on precipitation forecasts, and patterns.

I start with a 14 day outlook for rain. This map is an easy to view statistical summary of several models and will demonstrate a rain "bullseye" and trend.
http://wxmaps.org/pix/prec1.html

As I get closer to the intended trip days, I start to hone in on the details with FNMOC. This product shows maps from 2 different models that can be completely at odds with each other.
https://www.fnmoc.navy.mil/wxmap_cgi/cg ... 06&set=All

I always go the Dweebs in Mammoth and their weather links to the NWS Reno forecast discussion for the Eastern Sierra.
http://mammothweather.com/

Then, there is always the fringe forecasters out there who really focus on telling us when a monsoon is going to kick in. He's on my Facebook feed.
http://www.southerncaliforniaweatheraut ... /scwa.html

When everything seems muddled, I go to KARNAC for clarity and advice because even after all of the above, "weather happens" :)
http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4079/4824 ... 4f13_o.jpg
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Re: Planning for the Weather

Postby sparky » Sat Jun 09, 2012 9:35 am

I have gone out without checking the weather a few times, and when I was under 25 there was no weather checking! But now most of my trips are spur of the moment because of the nature of my work, and I sometimes forget.

Back before the internet, there was no weather checking anything beforehand. Especially when I was doing extended road trips. There was no way for me to know what was happening in the ranges out of my area (that I knew of) and I never worried about that...hell sometimes I didn't know where I was going when I hit the road.:cool: I don't think I have ever hit the trail without asking about the weather at the ranger station. Warm bag and warm jacket, I still carry those to this day.

Now, with the internet I do check 90% of the time. I would fall under category four. I have never canceled a trip because of weather, but I have changed the location. But being 4 hours from sequoia and 7 from Yosemite, a lot can happen! I have been surprised! One trip I "forgot" my poncho and "forgot" to check the weather. Beautiful on the east side below the crest, but not so much over the crest. I figured it was going to rain every day, my wind jacket wet out, it was foggy and lightning was really close, but I couldnt tell how close. That scared me, and I bailed when the lightnig moved on.

I remember getting caught in weather I was unprepared for only 3 times. One of those I checked weather forecasts and something really unusual popped up on mt. san jacinto. Another was a hurricane off baja in i think 1999, I was in AZ.

The monsoons that go down in AZ are pretty impressive
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Re: Planning for the Weather

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun Jun 10, 2012 9:47 am

I check everything I can! But I do long trips (10-16 days or more) and the long term forecasts are quite inaacurate, so I bring what is needed for foul weather. More imporantly, I always plan escape routes if the weather does turn poor.
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Re: Planning for the Weather

Postby tomba » Sun Jun 10, 2012 12:47 pm

I use the source, i.e., NWS, directly.

Start with a point forecast. For example Tuolumne Meadows point forecast. Click on "Hourly Weather Graph" for up to 6 days forecast. One can select another point of interest in the interactive map on the right.

To gauge the outlooks and uncertainties, read the Area Forecast Discussion. Each of the four County Warning Areas that cover Sierra has its own discussion.
The discussions cover time frame of about 7-8 days ahead, and often give early heads-up about upcoming systems.

Rain radars are useful only right before trip.

For longer range Climate Prediction Center forecasts may be useful.
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Re: Planning for the Weather

Postby freestone » Fri Jun 29, 2012 10:11 pm

Finally... there is talk of a monsoon intrusion into southeastern California sometime between the 4th and 15th of July. Everything east of the Sierra is baking into oblivion now, so a good monsoon surge seems reasonable as the west coast trough backs off and the high pressure expands west out of Texas. Anyone predicting intensity yet? As they always say, "it bears watching".

http://wxmaps.org/pix/prec1.html
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Re: Planning for the Weather

Postby richlong8 » Sat Jun 30, 2012 5:53 am

I check the sites like everyone else, at least to an extent. On short trips, rain is pretty easy to predict.I did miss the high winds in the Sierra the weekend of June 22nd, and changed a 3 day trip in Sabrina Basin to just 2 days. So it would be interesting to me to know if any members saw that coming, and where they got the info. I always carry a lightweight tent, raingear, etc; I have seen enough snow and cold weather thru the years.For me, it is not an option to be unprepared.
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Re: Planning for the Weather

Postby SSSdave » Sat Jun 30, 2012 8:27 am

During the early days one could view the evolving science of weather satellite imagery and the only place for ordinary folk to do so was by watching such on the tube. In the pre-Internet days as a SF Bay Area resident, Pete Giddings on channel 7 ABC was the one TV weather person I tended to listen to most because he was an actual meteriologist that had long years tuning into weather in the region and began to understand its dynamics beyond the known patterns of analysis. He would sometimes describe what he saw on the then evolving satellite images that are important to understanding regional weather at a higher level, so I was one of his remote students. Weather in the Sierra was not that far away so I could extrapolate the differences. In the winter I as an alpine skiing enthusiast, and especially a fresh powder storm skier, also listened to Giddings as he provided good Tahoe regional mountain forecasts.

I've studied meteriology some and always been fascinated by it. My IE Favorites Weather folder is showing 117 link files. Many of the links already noted above and more including some obscure links where one can get at climate databases. I do have a MesoWest account. One useful link I will add to the thread that is a key to understanding forecasts and which is rarely elaborated on watered down forecasts is what the northern jetstream is doing. Getting familiar with these charts will help one understand a lot more than just the wind because it drives the large circulating weather systems like a conveyor belt.

http://virga.sfsu.edu/

In the last couple years an extremely valuable addition to the NWS sites that requires some digging down in their links to find is this comprehensive set of regional graphics:

http://graphical.weather.gov/sectors/hnx.php#tabs

Especially useful for evaluating potential wind issues. Before my recent Redwoods National Park trip that is on a thread in our Beyond The Sierra Nevada forum, it allowed me to predict fog and breeze issues enough to trigger at short notice a 6 day road trip that resulted in excellent diffuse overcast light conditions with mostly minor breezes.
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Re: Planning for the Weather

Postby freestone » Wed Jul 04, 2012 6:35 am

The monsoon is now south of the Sierra and seems to be creeping slowly in that direction. If you are going in between now and the weekend, plan on bringing your trekking umbrella. At the very least, enjoy the clouds and thunder, it may not build much beyond that, before it all shuts down by the weekend.


http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/total_forecast/ ... NX&wfo=HNX

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