Techy Thursday - Working with the weather
If there's one thing I'm obsessed with when it comes to planning trips, it's the weather. At a minimum of two weeks out I'll be looking at long range forecasts trying to predict what's going to happen over the upcoming days but looking that far out (short of a cyclone) nothing is certain no matter which way it's going. Let me tell you it's an unnecessary rollercoaster of emotions because you can't change the weather, and the weather always changes.
But that shouldn't stop you checking things out well ahead of time because planning trips is fun and the weather does have a substantial impact on what we do. If it's looking like the area you are heading to is going to cop it then you'll want to start looking at a plan B, C and D...and potentially back to plan A again. This couldn't be any more relevant than early season, spring fly fishing.
The weather will dictate what gear you're taking, will you really need to go waders and a jacket (always take a jacket though) or can you wet wade? Hut, tent or fly only? Where is the wind coming from and how strong? And being early season it will still get cold overnight so hang onto those gloves and beanies.
However, this is New Zealand. How often have we had forecasts of weather bombs that never eventuated or supposed fine weekends that ended up being constantly peppered with downpours and hail? My ethos is plan for the worst based on the information at hand, then go outside, look up and get into it.
So over the years I've dialled my resource of weather sites down to a handy five links. They all offer something different and by using a few different sources you can quickly establish a trend of what to expect. But being spring, expect a bit of everything!
This is the go to top line weather site for me. If you want to get a quick idea as to what's looking to happen ten days out then go here. It's low on detail but if it's showing ten straight sunny days then that's a pretty good sign that there's a huge anti cyclone sitting right above where you want to be, happy days. If it's showing lots of the blue and grey stuff then keep digging.
So Metservice hasn't given you the forecast you want? (no surprises there) Head here for some easy to read long forecast maps that illustrate how weather patterns are moving and what they think will happen with precipitation and winds. It pays to have a basic understanding of how to read a weather map, which can also be a curse as it can bring out the amateur professional weather forecaster in all of us. Definitely my main go to site though and well worth playing around with different regions to get a bigger picture of what's going on.
This site offers a more localised drilled down forecasting based off local stations. If the area you're looking to fish is known for its micro climate then this is a cool place to look. A lot of people swear by this one and I've found it very handy when trying to plan details into a day.
Thinking about heading into the high country, headwaters or having to hit a high mountain pass / tops to access your spot? Then this is a great resource for telling you what might be going on up high. Don't make the mistake of looking at the weather forecast for, say, the Ruahine foothills that might forecast 20kt winds because when you hit the bushline and stick your nose over the ridge you'll get blown back off the hill. Very recently people have died because they didn't account for the wind chill and general conditions to be vastly different once they had gained a few hundred metres elevation, and even if you're not planning on spending any real amount of time at that height you do need to be suitably prepared if you get stuck for whatever reason.
This is more of a fun one (as fun as meteorology gets) that has really nice graphic and topo maps that can show various weather conditions over the day in a drilled down zone just by using the slider to change the time of day. I use it primarily to try and see wind switches over the day or week. There is probably some additional functionality of benefit but usually by the time I've made it to this site I've got a fair idea of what I THINK might be going on and it's more to try and see how that wind might hit a certain watershed over a few days.
So that's that quick version. There will be plenty of other places to find the same sort of information out there, but hopefully this helps you get a head start if you haven't done much back country or even car camping planning before.
I'll go into map resources, river levels and how to research spots (without giving too much information away) sometime in the next few weeks because I'm a firm believer in that the more time you can spend researching a trip before you do it the better prepared you are when you hit the ground. You don't want to be wasting time trying to figure out things like water access, where to camp and alternative routes in and out of your zone. And besides it's a very fun way to kill some time.
Good luck with the weather and have a ripping start to the season!