How Windy is “Very Windy?”

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Very Windy

When planning above-treeline hikes, significantly in winter, we pay explicit consideration to 2 variables: temperature and wind pace. One of the best supply for this data is the NOAA Nationwide Climate Service forecast accessible on which covers all the United States. You need to use that web site to do level forecasts as properly on trails, ridges, or mountain summits. It’s amazingly correct more often than not.

Give it a strive by typing “Franconia Ridge” into the higher left-hand textual content field subsequent to the button labeled “Go”

Franconia Ridge Forecast
Franconia Ridge Forecast

It’s essential to grasp that the Nationwide Climate Service (NWS) forecast proven above, makes use of a extremely stylized vocabulary that has very particular meanings. Many of those phrases and abbreviations are utilized by NWS forecasters to speak with one another and have been in use for a few years.

The NWS publishes a glossary that’s helpful to check with containing definitions for greater than 2000 phrases, phrases, and abbreviations used. It’s essential that you simply perceive what they imply after they use totally different phrases to explain the wind, particularly in winter, when the ensuing wind chill can speed up frostbite on uncovered parts of pores and skin or knock you to the bottom in hazardous terrain.

For instance:

  • Very Windy means 30-40 mph wind.
  • Windy means 20-30 mph wind.
  • Blustery or Breezy means 15-25 mph wind.
  • Calm means no wind.

Hourly Forecasts

Whereas the NWS gives a daytime and nighttime forecast, as proven above, additionally they present instruments to forecast circumstances by the hour, in addition to forward by a number of days. That is very helpful for forecasting what circumstances can be like once you attain a sure level throughout your hike. You’ll find this software by scrolling down the web page under the primary forecast on

Hourly Forecast Tool

The hourly forecast is helpful as a result of wind speeds are inclined to range through the day. If you happen to can keep under treeline, protected against the wind by vegetation when the winds are excessive, you might be able to time your hike so that you simply pop above treeline simply because the wind pace is forecast to drop. I’ve finished this many occasions when climbing increased mountains the place it takes a number of hours to achieve treeline.

You need to use the identical software to foretell:

  • When precipitation is predicted to fall and by how a lot
  • Wind Chill
  • Dewpoint
  • Temperature
  • Wind Gusts
  • Wind Floor Pace
  • Relative Humidity
  • Precipitation Potential
  • Sky Cowl
  • Rain
  • Thunder
  • Snow
  • Freezing Rain
  • Sleet

When is the Wind Harmful?

The wind may be fairly harmful, significantly in chilly climate, as a result of it will probably speed up hypothermia or different chilly accidents like frostbite. Personally, I keep away from climbing in hotter climate in sustained winds (not gusts), above treeline, which can be higher than 40-50 mph the place there’s no vegetation to offer cowl. That’s the wind pace the place you may really feel the wind pushing you round. In winter when there may be an elevated threat of frostbite, I prefer to keep away from wind speeds of 25 mph or extra and temperatures under 10 levels F. However these are my preferences primarily based on years of expertise. These may sound like conservative wind speeds and temperatures however these are the essential guidelines of thumb that I comply with.

However there are conditions the place I’ll hike in increased winds. For instance, in summer time, the danger of chilly accidents is far decreased and climbing in increased winds can present some aid. I can even hike in increased winds in winter out within the open for brief distances, when the wind is at my again, or once I know that sure terrain options present a wind break. However these components depend upon figuring out your route in nice element by planning or earlier expertise.

Internet internet. Everybody develops their very own preferences on the subject of climbing in windy circumstances. Hopefully, this overview of the forecasting instruments accessible to you’ll enable you to make these selections for your self.

Philip Werner has hiked and backpacked over 8500 miles in the US and the UK and written over 3000 articles because the founding father of, famous for its backpacking gear critiques and climbing FAQs. A devotee of New Hampshire and Maine climbing and backpacking, Philip has hiked all 650+ trails within the White Mountains twice and has accomplished 9 rounds of the 48 peaks on the White Mountains 4000 footer checklist with over 510 summits in all 4 seasons. He’s additionally the creator of Backpacking the White Mountain 4000 Footers, a free on-line guidebook of the very best backpacking journeys within the White Mountains in New Hampshire and Maine. He lives in New Hampshire. Click on right here to subscribe to the SectionHiker publication.


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