Improving your weather knowledge

To develop weather knowledge, follow this procedure:

  • Listen frequently (at least once a day) to the weather forecast.
  • Listen for key words that might herald bad mountain weather: e.g. front, trough, depression, low pressure, falling pressure, increasing cloud/wind.
  • Conversely, the following words frequently suggest good mountain weather: calm or light winds, high pressure, anticyclone, rising pressure, clear skies, fog and/or frost warnings.
  • Read the daily weather forecast and then deliberately observe the weather. Become familiar with the terms commonly used to describe the weather. At the same time, try to identify clouds by reference to pictures.
  • Having practised the above for some weeks, try looking at the weather maps and make a forecast before reading the text. Check with the given forecast.
  • Next, try to make forecasts by observing the weather first. Check your opinions against maps and text.
  • Finally, do not look at the paper, just go out and make a personal forecast from what you can see and what you know has happened recently. Write it down, and then see whether you are accurate.

The key to all forecasting is to look into the approaching weather. This applies equally when reading the weather maps at home and anticipating what large changes may occur, or when in the outdoors looking into the wind and in the direction of the approaching weather to anticipate the next shower before it arrives.

Although maps and regional forecasts give knowledge of the weather over a wide area, they nearly always refer to low-lying ground. The ability to interpret the local mountain situation in the light of this information is a practical skill which all leaders should cultivate.