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Jed Augustine
(jaugusti) - F

Locale: Appalachians/Rockies
Estimating temperature on 11/06/2008 15:57:08 MST Print View

Hey y'all-

Before I go on a weekend trip, I look at the weather forecast in the nearest town to get an estimate for the temperature where I'll be backpacking. Trouble is, there often a big difference in elevation, not to mention weather patterns can sometimes very wildly depending on the landscape. Has anyone figured out a reliable way of estimating the temperature for a trek before actually hitting the trail?

I've heard that dropping 1000 ft equates with a 4 degree F rise in temperature, but that's totally unsubstantiated...

I hope all is well out there.

Richard Gless
(rgless) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Estimating temperature on 11/06/2008 16:04:17 MST Print View

I use http://www.nws.noaa.gov/ which gives point forecasts. I've found it to be pretty accurate for the Calfornia mountains. If the weather is marginal, e.g., possibility of thunderstorms, it becomes much less predictive. Regardless of the forecast I still take a shelter and basic raingear.

Hope this helps.

Tim Heckel
(ThinAir) - M

Locale: 6237' - Manitou Springs
NOAA on 11/06/2008 16:05:51 MST Print View

Assuming you are in the U.S.
Try this:
- forecast.weather.gov
- Type in the nearest town
- about 1/2 way down the page on the right find "Detailed point forecast"
- Click on the map in that box, approximately along your route

That gives you a 7-day spot forecast for wherever you click. Elevation and coordinates are listed in the info near the top of the page.

Jamie Shortt
(jshortt) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
Estimating temperature on 11/06/2008 18:51:56 MST Print View

Tim, Your directions were most helpful. I'm heading to Mount Mitchell in NC this weekened, until now I've been using the nearest city...guessing well its going to be colder. Now I have a point forecast that says 28 degrees for the low. Nothing else suggests a below freezing trip.

Thanks, Jamie

M G
(drown) - F - MLife

Locale: Shenandoah
point sources on 11/07/2008 09:02:46 MST Print View

Remember these are model outputs.

Best is to use data from the large network of remote met stations, or mesonet. These are data loggers often spread over a wide elevation range. On my recent trip to the Bob Marshall we had access to many of these which helped us plan our trip accordingly and get data on current condition even on our way to the trailhead via our cell phones. You can access these via the NOAA web site. Also take a look at the detailed meteorologist's dciscussion often they will make specific recommendations for travel at higher elevations and different aspects of mountain ranges in their observation area.

NOAA is your friend and it provides a vast amount of very useful, free data and information.