Why check the weather forecast before you go bushwalking? How should you use the weather forecast and climate records to help pack and plan your hike? How can climate records help you? How can you check the weather during your walk?
You should check out the climate statistics before you go, so that you take the right clothing, food, water and tent and can allow extra days for extreme weather. The stats will give the likelihood of this happening.
Check the statistics for Scott Peak Dam, just north of Western Arthurs and near Mt Anne . Long term stats show February would be the best time to go if you wanted the least number of rain days. But what clothing should you take?
Daily records for February show: Max temp 35, minimum temp 3, highest rain 42 mm. Long term averages show: 15 raindays, mean max temp 21, mean min temp 9, mean rain 65 mm
I’d be taking a full range of gear: sun hat, sunburn cream, long shirt and maybe long lightweight trousers for the hot days then overpants, rain jacket, perhaps down vest, thermals for the cold.
If you are planning a trip to northern SA (eg the Gammons) in spring check the forecast carefully as the temperature is often in the high twenties or low thirties, when it is high teens in Adelaide. My experience is that it is often 5 -10 degrees warmer than Adelaide but colder at night.
Check the climate statistics for Arkarooola the nearest weather station.
Long term averages show May to August look best from a temperature perspective (19-20 deg C). Mean min temp are 3-7 deg C, (lightweight sleeping bag weather). Days of rain 3, mean rain 6-10 mm (you may even risk just a fly depending on the month)
Further north in the Gammons, water can also be short supply after six months with little rain. A spring/summer trip is a no, no! Surprisingly, most rain falls in December-March as the tail ends of monsoons sweep down SE from the Kimberley, so May will still have lots of water in rock holes.
If you are walking in alpine areas, areas subject to flash flooding or in places which are exposed to weather blowing in from the sea, for example the central highlands of Tasmania or the west coast of the South Island in NZ, allowing extra days to sit out a storm or wait for a river to fall ( Franklin or South Coast Track, Tasmania) is essential for safety.
Risk Avoidance and Response
- SRXRIK001A SR003_3 UNDERTAKE RISK ANALYSIS OF ACTIVITIES
- SRXEMR001A SR003_1 RESPOND TO EMERGENCY SITUATIONS
Check for bushfire alerts:
- Check the ABC for current advice and bushfire warnings
- Bushfire and Fire Warnings in Victoria
- Park Alerts Queensland
- Park and Forest Closures on Code Red (Catastrophic) Fire Danger Rating days
- Parks and Wildlife Service Tasmania Track, Campsite and Reserve Closures and Re-openings
- Tasmania Fire Service Online
- South Australia www.cfs.org.au
- Western Australia www.fesa.wa.gov.au
- Northern Territory http://www.nt.gov.au/pfes/fire/index.html
- ACT www.esa.act.gov.au
FiresAU . For those of you who live in NSW, Tasmania, SA.
This app lists bushfire alerts ranking them according to proximity to your location, using the built-in GPS. Bushfires are also shown on a map by red pins and your current location by a blue pin. In the case of an emergency, a “canned message” can be emailed to a contact giving your location.
This is the official iPhone application of the NSW Rural Fire Service. This application provides information on current incidents across NSW attended by the RFS and other agencies. It also provides information on total fire bans.
One iPhone app that does just this is Thunderstorm-Calculator
Moonlight features a photorealistic display. The program takes the observer’s current position and time into account for exact rendering of images. Moonlight not only displays a pretty 3D image but also shows various essential data points: moon phase, distance between earth and moon, julian date or local sideral time.
There are many ways to monitor the weather while you walk
- portable weather station
- smartphone app
- GPS with inbuilt barometer/altimeter
1. Wristwatch Weather
I have only used Suunto watches (Finland), bought from Paddy Pallin, which have been around for many years and are very reliable. Their only problem is that the batteries have a significantly shortened lifetime if the compass, backlight or GPS are used frequently and having them replaced by Suunto is NOT cheap. Be careful if you have it done at your local jeweller, even if they claim to pressure test. Like me, you may regret it when your very expensive watch fills with water, as mine did after a swim in Lake Vera, near Frenchmans Cap, Tasmania after I had the battery replaced by the local Battery Bar
They make a great everyday watch and a good bushwalking navigation backup. PS The alarm is very quiet for me. Must be old age!
2. Portable Weather Station
Light weight, compact, weather stations which can be carried in your pack have become available recently at a low cost. I can’t vouch for their accuracy, but I would imagine they would be at least as accurate as a wristwatch.Many have an LCD screen so you can watch trends.
Try Dick Smiths for some ideas. They are much cheaper than a wristwatch “weather station” and there is no need to leave your tent in the morning to check if its raining!
…. or Kathmandu, for their combined weather station, alarm and clock at sale prices.
3. Got an iPhone? then try an app
Lets you easily know what is the pressure near you, using the internet. Great for calibrating your altimeter. Contrary to standard applications (with predefined cities), this version of the barometer will give you precisely the pressure of where you are. It integrates its own conversion system.Could be very useful before set out on a walk.
It uses GPS to show your location on the radar inf ull screen landscape view. National cloud and synoptic charts.
Time and Australian Weather, a match made in heaven. Weather sourced directly from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) displayed elegantly alongside the current time.
Calculate wind chill temperature by simply selecting the air temperature and wind speed. The calculated wind chill temperature is displayed “on the fly”. For those who travel by bike, motorcycle, boat, or other means where you find yourself exposed to the elements while in motion, Wooly Wind Chill now has the option to calculate the approximate effective wind chill based your current moving speed (not factoring for actual wind speeds).
Identify conclusively a thundercloud and what kind of weather can be expected in what time frame when you see fleecy clouds. Find out if it is going to rain when the spider stops spinning its web and much, much more. Detailed descriptions of all cloud types and the weather they bring. Complete cloud atlas with all cloud families, species and types according to the International Cloud Atlas of the WMO (World Meteorological Organization). Large photo gallery with over 70 examples of all cloud types
Garmin, and no doubt others, have quite a few GPSs which come equipped with a barometer/altimeter eg the wrist mounted Foretrex 401, the touch screen Oregon 450 -550 series, GPSMAP 62 series, eTrex Summit HC, eTrex Vista
Get more iPhone Apps for the Outdoors
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