As experienced patrons of powder will know, the weather up high in the mountains can be very unpredictable and turn in an instant. Any knowledge in these situations can be invaluable, and whilst nothing can ever be guaranteed when dealing with Mother Nature, there are some tell tale signs you can read that can keep you ahead of the curve.
First off absolutely nothing beats staying educated with the latest weather reports, we live in a day and age where technology is better than it’s ever been, with weather forecast predictions delivering at a high 90% accuracy level. Before you set out you should ALWAYS be checking the latest reports, there are a number of skiing specific weather report channels online, and these should be bookmarked and referred to whenever possible. You shouldn’t rely on one forecast either, check regional and national forecasts, and compare the information carefully.
Before you set off you also need to ask yourself what you’re going to do if you end up in your worst case situation. Are you packed for that? Is there a contact that is aware of your return time? Are your emergency devices charged? Nobody likes to think of the worst case situation, but doing so could save your life.
So you’re on the slopes ready to start your adventure. The first thing is to look at the weather where you are, and then try to look beyond this to where you’ll be ending up. You might be able to spot telling darker clouds in that area, but it’s important that you wait and see how this weather is travelling. Assess if that weather patch is moving, and if so in what direction as well as analysing the size of bad weather you can see. This will help you understand the natural evolution of the weather conditions you’re seeing right there and then.
This process shouldn’t stop here either. Choose three other points to stop and assess, ideally spaced out equally. Repeat the exact same process , including your starting point. There’s one clever and often miss-looked addition to your tasks here, communicate with others (if safe to do so - lets try not to ruin the skiing experience of others for the sake of a catch up) by asking what the conditions and weather is like from those coming from the direction you are heading towards.
Finally be safe and NEVER take a risk out there when the weather turns!