Understanding the weather

  • Basic considerations
  • Pressure systems
  • Air masses
  • Fronts
  • Seasonal variations
  • Mountain influence
  • Humidity
  • Lightning
  • Sources of information
  • Improving your weather knowledge

An ability to understand, anticipate and interpret weather changes is desirable for any outdoor person. But for leaders, this ability is essential. Think about the proportion of equipment in your pack that is carried to cope with the weather! It is as important as good route planning and a good knowledge of equipment. Your weather knowledge must be practical, so that it will guide you in what to do. The weather in southeast Australia can bring snow to the mountain tops in summer and it can mean the difference between an enjoyable walk through Tasmanian mountains and a trip in which hypothermia leads to loss of life. Desert storms can flood usually dry rivers, and dust storms can turn day into near night. The wet season in tropical northern Australia can bring astounding amounts of rain. To know your weather, understanding a few basic principles together with habitual observation of everyday weather, is all that is required.