A good preparation for a mountain tour is essential. This includes not only the right equipment but also a basic understanding of weather phenomena. The following weather guide shows you which weather forecasts are reliable and how you can recognize weather hazards early on.
If the weather does not play, the adventure in the mountains can quickly become a dangerous game with nature. With valuable safety instructions and an introduction to meteorology that gives E-book by Albert Leichtfried helpful tips for your next tour. Also highly recommended are the two Books from the Swiss Alpine Club "Mountain Sports Summer / Winter".
How does the weather work?
If you want to know how the weather is developing and changing, you will find answers in the so-called "polar frontjet stream". This jet stream is the control center of our weather and is caused by the temperature difference between the tropical and polar regions. The polar front jet is thus a strong west wind band at high altitude. Decisive for the weather is the constant shift of the jetstream counterclockwise around the northern hemisphere. in the current e-book you'll find graphics that tell you exactly how the jet works and how you recognize a high or low. Also, phenomena such as cold and warm front, south foehn and mountain winds are considered to understand the mountain weather and its impact on you as an outdoor athlete.
Weather changes can be read off the clouds
While warm fronts cause unwanted dew periods and poor climbing conditions, especially in the winter months, sudden cold fronts in summer are often the cause of emergency situations in the mountains. Weather swings are particularly well read on the clouds - the messenger of the sky. Clouds are condensed water vapor in the air and are caused mainly by the change of air packets. They can be roughly divided into three categories: Cumulus, Stratus and Cirrus. The distinction between the different types, often referred to as sheep, shift and spring clouds, helps you assess the weather and prepare you for any changes.
The correct behavior in case of weather hazards in the mountains
Basically, you should never underestimate the forces of nature. Cloudburst-like rain showers, strong storm gusts and foggy mountain climbs are the dreaded opponents of every outdoor fan. Especially in the mountains, the probability of a thunderstorm is very high; Warming storms are regarded as the most significant danger for alpinists in the high-tempo and alpine climbing area. If you are ever out in the field during a thunderstorm, it is important to recognize the gravity of the situation. In any case, exposed areas should be left, metal equipment removed. Taking the right position can also be life-saving: putting feet together, squatting and holding your arms to the body! If your backpack is dry, you can use it as a pad. Because the smaller your contact surface to the ground, the better. The E-Book summarizes the most important rules for emergencies and gives you a good overview of all weather hazards.
The most reliable are telephone predictions
Weather forecasts distinguish between computer, text and phone predictions. Most internet sites use the same principle: A computer program is fed with the data output of a weather model and, as a result, displays the weather forecast for a certain period of time. Your app promises pure sunshine, but now you want to get your rain jacket? This is not an isolated case, but unfortunately happens frequently: computer forecasts are based on many inaccuracies, as data is often collected incomplete. Already on the publication date of the forecast, a deviation from the real weather situation may occur.
Text predictions before computer forecasts
In general, any forecasts made for more than six days are considered unreliable. During the tour planning the mountain weather forecast should therefore always be checked as soon as possible. The meteorologist and extreme climber Albert Leichtfried advises all outdoor athletes to use a computer forecast only for the next day. The situation is different with text forecasts, which are prepared by meteorologists on the basis of different weather models. Certain weaknesses of a computer forecast can be compensated in this way. The most accurate type of weather forecast, however, is the telephone advice of a meteorologist. Only here can the meteorologist go straight to the desired area and also pay attention to whether you are planning a mountain hike or just a barbecue.
Credits: Picture and text zVg