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  1. #1
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    Default Weather research

    What are your go-to sites to check the weather before a hike? Also - where do you go to check historic temp ranges? Interested to know what other people are using.

    Thanks in advance for any advice!

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    I don't know how to find other recording sites, but I like using this National Weather Service website to check recent conditions (last 30 days) for hikes in GSMNP.

  3. #3
    Registered User tarditi's Avatar
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    I tend to use apps on my droid mostly. Eye in the Sky weather and Radar Tracker

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    I like Intellicast. Search for any town or Zip Code and on that page will be a link for Historic Averages. There you find a table of monthly averages. Click on a month to get daily averages and records for Temps. Also includes precip. The interactive radar map is also nice.

    http://www.intellicast.com/Local/His...ation=USVA0204

    Be careful however. Every weather web site I've seen will give the "local weather" for any town you enter, but what you are probably getting is the weather for the closest NOAA weather recording station, which may be some distance away, and most probably not up on the mountain where the trail is and where the weather can be substantially different. For example, on the weather page for Damascus VA above, it says it is really reporting data from the KVJI station, which is at the Abingdon Airport, some 14 miles away (as the bird flies).

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    weather.com

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    In the Northeast, the NOAA "higher summits" forecasts are invaluable, because they tell you what to expect in the mountains, rather than in the towns. Ones pertinent to the A-T include:

    Caribou, ME http://www.nws.noaa.gov/view/validPr...=REC&node=KCAR Katahdin, Cadillac, Moosehead Lake
    Gray, ME http://www.nws.noaa.gov/view/validPr...=REC&node=KGYX Northern New Hampshire, western Maine
    Burlington, VT http://www.nws.noaa.gov/view/validPr...=REC&node=KBTV Vermont (also the northern Adirondacks)
    Albany, NY http://www.nws.noaa.gov/view/validProds.php?prod=REC&node=KALY
    Southern Green Mountains, Berkshires/Taconics (Also southern Adirondacks, Great Sacandaga Lake, Lake George, eastern Catskills, mid Hudson)
    Binghamton, NY http://www.nws.noaa.gov/view/validProds.php?prod=REC&node=KBGM
    Poconos (also western Catskills, Lake Wallenpaupack, Oneida Lake, Finger Lakes)
    Baltimore, MD http://www.nws.noaa.gov/view/validPr...=REC&node=KLWX Shenandoah National Park
    Morristown, TN http://www.srh.noaa.gov/productview.php?pil=MRXRTPMRX Great Smoky Mountains, including Sugarland Center, Newfound Gap, Cades Cove, Oconaluftee, and Mt. Leconte
    Greenville-Spartanburg, SC http://www.nws.noaa.gov/view/validPr...=REC&node=KGSP Mt Mitchell, Grandfather Mountain, Beech Mountain, Mt. Pisgah, Clingmans Dome, Rabun Bald, Richland Balsam Overlook, Roan Mountain, Fontana Lake, Nantahala Lake, many others
    Last edited by Another Kevin; 09-20-2013 at 19:11.
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    I check at least two sites like AccuWeather, NOAA, Weather Underground, etc cross referencing the beta. I never go on a hike without checking the weather. Typically, check the weather again at each resupply pt.

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    There can be huge differences between towns and trails. Roanoake is very near huge sections of trail in VA. I hiked a section when the highs were supposed to be in the fifties and had been for days. At elevation I had snow and several inches of ice in places. Wasn't a show stopper but it was a butt scooter on a couple sections of trail. Nothing like coming off Mcaffees knob when it overhead in ice. The weather forecast had me leaving micro spikes at home. I really did need them that weekend.

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    Yes, take careful note at what elevation the weather is being reported at and adjust for the elev you'll be sleeping/hiking at. Even with the mountain forecast site Oilman linked to make note of the elev they are reporting the weather for. They often do this in their weather reports for you but nevertheless you should learn to do this anyhow.

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    I use cities and places like Whitetop VA, Helen GA, Franklin NC to get an idea of what it's going to be like in the Southern Apps. Another good place to check out is Roan Mountain State Park TN. I check all these places on the weather Channel. Then, like everyone else says, subtract about 10 degrees for higher elevations.
    Last edited by Gray Blazer; 09-18-2013 at 09:44. Reason: I'm a moron.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gray Blazer View Post
    I use cities and places like Whitetop VA, Helen GA, Franklin NC to get an idea of what it's going to be like in the Southern Apps. Another good place to check out is Roan Mountain State Park TN. I check all these places on the weather Channel. Then, like everyone else says, subtract about 10 degrees for higher elevations.
    I read thru this entire post and didn't anyone else say subtract about 10 degrees for higher elevations.

    The rule of thumb is subtract 3 degrees for every 1,000 feet of altitude gain. I'm a cold sleeper so after that I take another 10 - 15 degrees off when planning what sleep wear to bring.
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    Quote Originally Posted by fredmugs View Post
    I read thru this entire post and didn't anyone else say subtract about 10 degrees for higher elevations.

    The rule of thumb is subtract 3 degrees for every 1,000 feet of altitude gain. I'm a cold sleeper so after that I take another 10 - 15 degrees off when planning what sleep wear to bring.
    What Fred said.
    Last edited by Gray Blazer; 09-20-2013 at 11:29.
    I'm not really a hiker, I just play one on White Blaze.

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    Subtracting 3.4F for every 1000 ft is a start.

    I usually look at a high elevation town, say Suches, Ga for instance @3000' and figure in good weather the highest elevations (~5500 in NC) will be 10-15F cooler . In the GSMNP, there are weather forecasts for Newfound gap, mt. Leconte,

    However, this is general. If a weather system is moving in, it can be far off. In some conditions, there can be an inversion and temperatures at higher elevations are warmer than below. If a frontal system is moving in, it can be much worse up high than below. Sometimes day/night temps are the same at elevation, while below it can be 70F/40F. Never hurts to check the closest peaks on mountain-forecast, or the NOAA specific area forecast.

    I will add that accuweather has the longest extended forecast. Its not worth a darn, but its something. Every forecast greater than 7 days is very speculative and probably will change, probably opposite of what is forecast.

    I think weather.com forecast is the most reliable.

    I find Intellicast to be the worst. At the end of its forecast limit, it typically is differerent from weather.com or accuweather,and will change as the forecast gets closer. For instance, the other two call for rain 7 days out and intellicast calls for sun, etc.

    Ive had weeks forecast with 60%-70% chance of rain all week, that were beautiful. Severe weather fronts are the #1 thing you can be sure of will bring rain.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 09-21-2013 at 11:26.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    Yes, take careful note at what elevation the weather is being reported at and adjust for the elev you'll be sleeping/hiking at. Even with the mountain forecast site Oilman linked to make note of the elev they are reporting the weather for. They often do this in their weather reports for you but nevertheless you should learn to do this anyhow.
    And take the time to understand what it means to you, based on your metabolism, tolerance for cold weather, etc.
    Quote Originally Posted by fredmugs View Post
    . . . The rule of thumb is subtract 3 degrees for every 1,000 feet of altitude gain . . .
    I don't think the lapse rate is that accurate. I've always used 3 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit for every 1,000 to get an idea of what kind of temps I'm looking at.

    Anyway, the important point is to note the elevation for the forecast you're looking at and adjust for elevation. Computing that kind of data to the 14th decimal place can be amusing if you have nothing better to do, but isn't a lot of use when you're freezing your cojones off.
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  16. #16

    Default And sometimes the reverse is true

    In an active weather system environment, with fronts passing every 5-7 days, subtracting 3 to 5 degrees F for every 1,000' is a good generalization. One should also look for indications of when the leading edge of a front is expected to reach a particular location, as that's when temps will start dropping quickly, and often after some heavy precipitation. This is relevant due to the fact that forecast highs and lows speak to the 24 hour periods from midnight to midnight, so a front passing at, say, 10pm will bring colder temps but not necessarily enough of a drop to affect the forecast for the day of arrival. On the ground, however, during the night of the front's arrival, one certainly notices the preceding wetness, the sudden wind direction shift, and rapidly dropping temps.

    In a less active weather system environment, inversions often form. With a widespread inversion having settled in, overnight lows can be much, much lower in valleys than up top. It's not unusual for a location in a sheltered stream valley or cove to be 12-15 degrees F colder than on top of a nearby ridge only 1,500' higher in elevation.

    All in all, some understanding of how weather systems behave, particularly routine systems like approaching cold fronts, goes a long way towards minimizing weather-related surprises. As the leading edge approaches, likely winds out of the S-SW and often some precip. Front arrives at "point X" and the wind direction shifts to blowing out of the N or NW, where it may remain for 12 to 48 or even 60-72 hours depending on the strength of the front. During the windy period, temps will drop, sometimes by 30-40 degrees F or more, but the skies will remain relatively clear. After the blow, if another front isn't lined up to arrive at "point X" by the 5th or 6th day, an inversion may form, and the next couple or three nights may be warm up top and very cold in the valleys. At least the above is what I've observed in the Southern Appalachians over a few decades of professional and recreational days afield. YMMV.

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  17. #17
    Registered User Wise Old Owl's Avatar
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    There is a small issue with the Intellicast app having too much delay.... a recent cold storm front passed thru and the app gave me 1/2 hour to 1 hour showing the front on the other side of Chester county. Channel ten had the storm almost on top of me at the same time. they have there own NexRad so this was not a surprise... I am now looking for an app without the data delay... It may also have something to do with servers in King of Prussia.

    Anyone else noticed this?
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Another Kevin View Post
    In the Northeast, the NOAA "higher summits" forecasts are invaluable, because they tell you what to expect in the mountains, rather than in the towns. Ones pertinent to the A-T include:

    Caribou, ME http://www.nws.noaa.gov/view/validPr...=REC&node=KCAR Katahdin, Cadillac, Moosehead Lake
    Gray, ME http://www.nws.noaa.gov/view/validPr...=REC&node=KGYX Northern New Hampshire, western Maine
    Burlington, VT http://www.nws.noaa.gov/view/validPr...=REC&node=KBTV Vermont (also the northern Adirondacks)
    Albany, NY http://www.nws.noaa.gov/view/validProds.php?prod=REC&node=KALY
    Southern Green Mountains, Berkshires/Taconics (Also southern Adirondacks, Great Sacandaga Lake, Lake George, eastern Catskills, mid Hudson)
    Binghamton, NY http://www.nws.noaa.gov/view/validProds.php?prod=REC&node=KBGM
    Poconos (also western Catskills, Lake Wallenpaupack, Oneida Lake, Finger Lakes)
    Baltimore, MD http://www.nws.noaa.gov/view/validPr...=REC&node=KLWX Shenandoah National Park
    Morristown, TN http://www.srh.noaa.gov/productview.php?pil=MRXRTPMRX Great Smoky Mountains, including Sugarland Center, Newfound Gap, Cades Cove, Oconaluftee, and Mt. Leconte
    Greenville-Spartanburg, SC http://www.nws.noaa.gov/view/validPr...=REC&node=KGSP Mt Mitchell, Grandfather Mountain, Beech Mountain, Mt. Pisgah, Clingmans Dome, Rabun Bald, Richland Balsam Overlook, Roan Mountain, Fontana Lake, Nantahala Lake, many others
    WOW!!! Thanks ! Bookmarked.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by RavensFan View Post
    What are your go-to sites to check the weather before a hike?
    Here's one > http://sophiaknows.com/atdb/weather.php

  20. #20
    Registered User FatMan's Avatar
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    When hiking the AT in Georgia you should use these two underground weather stations. Both are at around 3000' altitude and best reflect trail conditions.


    http://www.wunderground.com/cgi-bin/findweather/getForecast?query=34.665%2C-84.032&sp=KGASUCHE4
    - Grassy Gap about 250 yds from AT


    http://www.wunderground.com/cgi-bin/...&sp=KGABLAIR13 - Blood Mtn Cove near Neels Gap

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