It’s always advisable to check the weather forecast before heading out on a walk. For a short low level walk, a general forecast will probably be sufficient. However, if you are heading for the hills or staying out all day, a specialist outdoor activity forecast is a better option. Forecasts for hillwalkers will give you the conditions that you can expect to encounter on the hilltops which can be radically different from lower ground.
The following sources are recommended
- Mountain Weather Information Service (MWIS)
- Met Office mountain forecasts
- Met Office 7 day forecasts – type the name of the nearest town into the search box. The search facility also recognises the names of popular hills and mountains and will give you a forecast for the summit eg Ben Chonzie.
- Surface Pressure Charts from the Met Office.
- SAIS avalanche forecast – for hillwalking in Scotland in the winter months
When checking the weather forecast as well as whether or not it is going to rain you also need to think about:
- Temperature – how cold will it feel – including any windchill factor
- Wind speed – will the wind be so strong as to make walking difficult – what effect will it have on windchill
- Wind direction – will you be walking with the wind or against it
- Cloud cover/base/visibility – will you be able to see where you are going
- Precipitation – will it fall as rain or snow
More information on dealing with the different types of weather when out walking can be obtained from the Mountain Safety UK website.
If you want to learn more about the weather and the processes involved a good place to start is the Met Office website. For something more structured, the University of Reading run a free online course on the Future Learn website.