• Happy Birthday, Doc Holliday (1851-1887)!

Weather Forecasts (are today’s whippersnappers spoiled?)

Joined
Jul 6, 2021
Messages
643
Reaction score
518
Location
The Hereford Zone along the Mason-Dixon Line
Watching the weather forecast for a trip it occurred to me that we’ve never had it this good. I can go on-line and find an extended 5 to 10 day weather forecast for darn near anywhere on the planet.

Or maybe that isn’t such a good thing. Back “in the day”, before all this on-line computer falderal, there was the day-before forecast in the local newspaper, or the local TV/radio weather news, and that was it before leaving home.

If you were travelling for a trip you prayed for some car radio news forecast as you got close. Maybe we’ll just sit here at the put in and scroll the AM dial for a spell. No luck, well, let’s go.

That local area forecast, when available, was sometimes disconcerting, or even ominous. But we went anyway, and at worst oh-heck-no laid over for a day nearby when we got close. We had already driven there darn it, we were going.

I wonder how many trips have been postponed, or cancelled, because the modern insta-weather forecast didn’t look good. Or perhaps even look perfect. Admittedly in modern times I’ve cancelled a few trips, postponed a few or headed-the-other-way after radically changing the paddling destination.

But if folks never get out in crazy weather wind and rain how are they going to learn what works, and more importantly what doesn’t work, to keep them dry and safe?

And I wouldn’t trade those crazy weather memories - snow collapsed tents, poorly erected and wind brutalized tarps, crappy stakes and lines pulling out, tents tipped sideways with bent poles or, a favorite memory, hunkered down ashore part way there with everyone crouched under a handheld tarp in a hailstorm, all laughing our tails off - for twice that many blue sky days.

Do I remember the sunny blue sky days as distinctly? No. And did I learn anything tripping in ideal weather? Oh heck no!

The bad weather experiences held many more lessons, and memories.
 
Joined
Jun 12, 2014
Messages
3,512
Reaction score
709
Location
NW Iowa
There is a lot to be said for that. For years my schedule and lack of planning allowed me to leave on the spur of the moment in nice weather or postpone if the weather looked poor. I'm sure some good trips and memories were missed because of the weather forecast. But I also have very fond memories of my first real canoe trip that took place in northern Minnesota in the middle of April. It had been an unseasonably dry and warm winter that brought an early ice out and low water levels. That combined with a fantastic weather forecast (sunshine, no wind, and 60-70 degrees) prompted me to pack up and leave with only a couple days notice. It was a special trip.

When I did my longer trips it was the first time I never really paid attention to the weather forecast. On a 7 or 10 day trip I could shift the trip by a day or two to fit the weather but on a longer trip there was no point in even trying. There's bound to be a lot of weather involved in a 30-40 day trip so all you can do is take it as it comes. But like you said there can be a real satisfaction in doing so and it creates some great memories, even if it was anything but fun at the time.

Alan
 
Joined
Apr 10, 2019
Messages
195
Reaction score
83
Location
Howe, Texas
Sometimes I think it is worse. At least before the 5-10 day forecast you was prepared for anything. Now sometimes I'll leave stuff at the house because there will be now rain scheduled for days. But out of nowhere there will be a rain shower and will be wet for the rest of the day.
 
Joined
Dec 25, 2017
Messages
458
Reaction score
204
Location
Hogtown
If you haven't a good site for weather is windy.com, you can get 14 day forecast from them plus all kinds of filters and interactive maps to check things like snow depth (good for checking water levels during spring breakup).

Spoiled? Absolutely, I use the forecast on my InReach daily and sometimes pay the extra for the 7 day forecast. Fantastic for planning truly long lake crossings and deciding if today is the day to relax in the morning because the winds will be much lower or a more favourable direction later in the day.

I'm not quite sure how I managed back in the dark days of the 20th century.....it does seem to me that back then I was always battling headwinds and getting rained on. Still happens now but at least I know in advance what I will be dealing with.
 
Joined
Nov 23, 2012
Messages
879
Reaction score
232
Location
Western Adirondacks
i took a meterology course in college. My professor said that if you forecast tomorrow to be just like today, you will be 80% correct on average.

During my working years, especially when in the military as part of a crew, I had leave when I had leave scheduled with little option of exactly when. I couldn't change much about the timings of my wilderness outings if the weather went bad or was forecast to be bad while I was out. Just learn to deal with it. But one of my favorite paddling locations (Stillwater Reservoir, NY) has its long axis perfectly aligned with the prevailing SW wind. However, the fairly protected launch put-in is generally relatively wind free and calm even if the wind does pick up a half mile further on.

I can't tell you how many times I set out on a cloudy day, lived through a couple of miserable wet days, only to wake up to a perfectly clear blue sky day under high pressure on the day I was to go home. But that clear high pressure more often than not brought strong westerly winds, making my paddle out a big sometimes dangerous effort paddling my then C2 Grumman as a solo canoe.
 
Joined
Feb 14, 2020
Messages
555
Reaction score
348
Location
Goshen CT
a good site for weather is windy.com
Wow- thanks! I downloaded their application and it’s great.

I obsess over wind direction during hunting season and this will bring my compulsion to a new level.

Similar to what’s been said, maybe extended forecasts aren’t aligned with living in the moment as well. A bit antithetical to going on a canoe trip in the first place, for me any way.

Bob
 
Joined
Dec 1, 2012
Messages
472
Reaction score
235
Location
Altoona, Pennsylvania
I don’t have much faith in forecasts. I think the most accurate meteorologists are the ones who are non-committal and just say some clouds and sun and seasonable temperatures. Especially when looking at forecasts more than 24 hours out. I’m good with whatever is coming and have never cancelled or regretted a trip due to weather. As stated it’s part of the experience. Calm seas don’t make good sailors as the saying goes.
 
Joined
Jul 31, 2011
Messages
534
Reaction score
246
Location
Dodgeville, Wi
Solo tripping I am cloud watcher. Horse tails indicate weather change, fish scales rain is coming, and so on. I also watch my fire smoke, to see if it hangs in the air, etc. That said I only have that info once I am in the bush so forecasts prior to the trip mean little and I do not have access to them when on a trip.
 
Joined
Nov 25, 2021
Messages
469
Reaction score
228
Location
Florida
We still drill in the rain. Just set up tarps for a station to box the cores, and hard hats make great rain hats. What we do pay attention to is lightning- best grounded thing in the world is a drill rig with rods in the hole!
 
Joined
Oct 21, 2021
Messages
95
Reaction score
55
Location
Hudson Valley, NY
I'll admit it - I've cancelled trips based on weather forecasts. % scatters showers I'll pack appropriately and head out. When all 3 days of a weekend trip are wall to wall rain, I'll stay home. In fact, I'll even admit that if the first 1-2 days are solid soaking rain, I'll stay home. I don't mind getting everything soaked on the last day, but having that happen on the first day when you know the weather on day two won't really dry things out, and you know dry fire wood will be very hard to come by, is usually a weekend trip-killer for me. Two really wet nights in a row is not my idea of fun, esp for a weekend trip less than a day's drive away, when I can reschedule easily enough.

I'll also admit to leaving layers at home when the forecast lows are well above hypothermia for a wet person at night. With a low of 75, if I get wet...I'm wet. I have emergency blanket and synthetic sleeping bag but I'm not packing the full rainsuit that makes me sweat in summer. There's another aspect of readily available and decently accurate forecasts that makes me spoiled.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jul 18, 2016
Messages
819
Reaction score
360
Location
Bowmanville, Ontario
But if folks never get out in crazy weather wind and rain how are they going to learn what works, and more importantly what doesn’t work, to keep them dry and safe?

And I wouldn’t trade those crazy weather memories - snow collapsed tents, poorly erected and wind brutalized tarps, crappy stakes and lines pulling out, tents tipped sideways with bent poles or, a favorite memory, hunkered down ashore part way there with everyone crouched under a handheld tarp in a hailstorm, all laughing our tails off - for twice that many blue sky days.

I notice you wouldn't trade the memories, but the question is "Would you repeat them?"

I subscribe to the idea that I don't actually need to put my tongue on the frozen fence post to realize it isn't the best idea. I don't need to start a trip in the middle of a 2 day storm if I can avoid it ... I have done it and like you I have the memories, it's why I try not to do it now. Maybe the trippers checking the weather forecast are just quick learners, who also figure that putting their tongue on the frozen post isn't a good idea.

Also, large park areas can have their own weather and really don't seem to subscribe to what the forecasters predict .... so my packing tends to expect the worst and be happy when you don't get it.

Brian
 
Joined
Dec 16, 2016
Messages
535
Reaction score
363
Location
Bangor, Maine
I've never cancelled a trip for rain, but on a loosely planned short trip I'll play the compass -- what's better, west to the Moose River, north to Chesuncook/Allagash, or east to downeast/Machias lakes. I love heading out into heavy rain (sans lightning, of course) when I know it will dawn clear the next day.
 
Joined
Mar 3, 2020
Messages
72
Reaction score
31
I have a meteorologist in the family, they tell me anything beyond 4 days is just a crap shoot, and you can throw the 14 day forecast out the window.

I used stress about the forecast pre-trip, gave that up tho cause over a long trip your gonna see it all anyways, so no forecast checking before we go. If bad weather comes early in the trip, that’s great, gets it over with. The Scotsman in me makes me avoid the daily Inreach forecasts but after a few days of windbound crappyness I gotta check it.

There is no doubt, weather is probably what I remember the most about trips. Stuck in a tent drying out all our stuff over a Peak 1 during a 2 day October blizzard in the middle of AP, or 40C degree days spent in the river holding on to the canoe floating with the current on the lower Missinaibi, plough winds on the Churchill and finding our vehicles pretty much crushed by trees when we got back to the parking lot, time spent under a tarp swatting mosquitoes hiding from sudden torrential rains, these are what memories are made of!
E80AC8D2-7B75-4CD9-BB90-0AE5C2722226.jpeg


I will change plans due to water levels, first stop before any trip is the Wateroffice site for levels, that’s some pretty cool technology!
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jun 17, 2019
Messages
117
Reaction score
55
Location
Michigan
I like watching the weather before a trip. Around the Great Lakes it seems to change multiple time a day everyday for two weeks till the trip. usually small changes but not always. The only time I really let weather influence the trip is open water crossing on one of the Great Lakes. If terrestrial trip 2-4 days are usually pretty accurate but when paddling on Supperior, Michigan or Huron I found that 2 hours is usually very accurate and then quickly peters out from there. I just try to plan for worst of the season I am paddling. If forecast looks like a lot of rain wind etc I pack and extra tarp or two.
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2011
Messages
6,940
Reaction score
918
Location
Raymond, ME
The trouble is weather forecasts are general until you get down to the hours before a possible event. Had one ten days ago..All was good until pop up tstorms started forming.. Then at two they started rotating and lo at four ceased to rotate but wiped out a campground with a lot of damage and damage to RVs trucks and cars.. And killed a kid. We about 12 miles on the other side of the lake...nada.
You really can't trust a long range forecast for very local thunder storms. Best bet is to train your noticing weather eye and always always watch the sky.. including behind you.
 
Top