Wilderness Medicine- Trip Planning – Weather Digital


Weather! Cold, hot, rainy, windy, lightning.. It all effects whether we will go out into the wilderness and how we will dress and prepare. But other than your local weather person (they really have gotten better at making predictions!), how do you know what the weather will be where you are going?

Rebecca hates the idea of smart phones ( well, at least her using one) but I love my iPhone6. I used to be glued to the Weather Channel before I was going out to have some idea about the weather. But once out there, I had no direct contact with any weather service ( other than carrying a NOAA weather radio for storm alerts!). With my smartphone, I can have current radar at my fingertips, as long as I’m connected.

So this first installment on weather will be about digital access to weather info. The next installment will be about other ways to read weather.

 The weather Apps I like are My-Cast,Weather UndergroundNOAA Radar , and Lightning Finder.

Pick an app and learn to use it well. I like the map functions which give me a choice between radar and IR and Visible clouds. This allows me to look at weather and get some idea of speed and direction and intensity. I’ve gotten pretty good at predicting when weather will hit my location from the moving map 4-6 hours out. Am I always right? No, but pretty close most of the time. The Forecast feature is sometimes useful, but take the forecast at 5-10 days out with a grain of salt. But 1-4 days out is pretty good.


Conditions gives you current conditions.


Forecast gives up to 7 days at a glance and then you can click on the day for more details.



Maps is the tab I use most. Within the Maps Tab, you can choose from Radar, Vis Clouds, IR clouds, and Stormwatch. I don’t use the WeatherMap feature or the Tropical feature.

Radar: this gives you a moving map and the time interval depends on how much you are zoomed in. With the entire US visible, the radar shows 8 hours of data in 1 hour blocks, zoomed in to just the state of Tennessee, you get 2 hours in 15 minute blocks. Zoom in closer and you only see an hour, but the interval stays at 15 minutes.


Vis Clouds: moving map with the same parameters as Radar, but it gives you a look at cloud coverage. Useful during daylight hours.

IR clouds: is useful at night and also gives you a little better idea of the density of the clouds.

 Stormwatch: is useful because you can click on the colored warning area and it will tell you the specific warning.


 Weather Underground wunder

reports data from personal weather stations that people have set up at their home or farm or business. If you have a station close to you, it is really good for getting really local data.


NOAA Radar:FullSizeRender

I use if My Cast radar not working well. Not often.

 Lightning Finder:lightningfinder

considering that Lightning injuries are significant and potentially life threatening, having some idea about lightning in your area or a storm approaching is a good thing. I also like that that you can set an alert for your location or your zip code, so if a lightning strike occurs within 10 miles of your location, you will receive a text alert. I wish the parameters were 20 miles, but they didn’t ask me!


And if you looked up hillmap.com from last week, you can find the location your are going to and click on a point and it will show the GPS coordinates and Elevation and underneath this will be a link to weather.gov which takes you to NOAA National Weather Service conditions and forecast for that specific spot. We use this in trip planning in Avalanche country, but it works for general wilderness travel too!

Becoming proficient as using your weather app will take some practice, but it is a skill well worth sharpening if you like to be prepared.. Or you can use a Weather Rock.. To be explained next blog installment on Planning- Weather- Natural!

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