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Various weather forecasts
#57690 07/11/20 04:02 PM
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I am hoping some of the local experts can let us know which weather forecasts you look at? We'll be making our first attempt at Mt. Whitney in 11 days! smile

First, I'd also like to say the posts on the Current Conditions part of this forum are really useful, especially regarding how much (or little) snow is left on the trail. Then I look at the various weather forecasts, especially the ones listed as resources on this forum. But I noticed some pretty big differences between the forecasts. For example:

- mountain-forecast.com predicts a high at the summit of 48F for the next several days, dropping to a high of 46 or 45 at the summit the end of this coming week.

- timberlinetrails.com predicts a high at the summit of 55F, then dropping to a high of 52F by mid-week.

- the NWS (gold standard?) predicts a more balmy 61F at the summit today but dropping to a high of 56F by he end of the week.

I can understand the NWS being slightly warmer (but it seems like a big difference), if I'm correct that it doesn't really target the summit. I believe its a point forecast that covers the small green square shown on its website and it even mentions an elevation of 13,110'. I sometimes wish we could just chop ~1,400' off the top of this hike. smile

Of course, all forecasts are just a guess but can any one explain the differences - especially between the first two forecasts? Anyone with experience as to which one is usually more accurate? Or do you have a different forecast that you like better?

Also, I'm worried about the heat in Lone Pine and even Whitney Portal the days before our hike sapping our strength. We plan to spend much of Sunday acclimating at Horseshoe Meadow where it should be nice and cool but then we'll have to go back down to the heat. And plan to spend the day before just relaxing at Whitney Portal. If anyone has other suggestions I'd love to hear them.

I've searched this forum and didn't see any discussion of the various forecasts. Apologies if I missed it in another thread.

Re: Various weather forecasts
Team Dirty Boots #57691 07/11/20 05:53 PM
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Unfortunately, there isn't much actual data out there to compare the forecast to. I once spoke to Sequoia N.P. people about installing a weather reporting station on the Whitney hut, but was shut down with the remark that "it would just be so much junk" at the hut. I have a feeling it was the same guy who spoke at a SEKI meeting in Visalia, and he hinted that carrying any communications equipment (Spot and InReach) wasn't truly a wilderness experience -- as if he wanted to ban their use. I am sure it was just his personal opinions.

So trying to compare the NOAA to actual data, you can click on the NOAA map to locate their green square in different places. I moved it to Cottonwood Lakes, just several miles south of Trail Camp. There is a weather station there, link at the bottom of our Whitney Weather page. So moving the green square so it reports 11050 elevation near Cottonwood Lakes, tomorrow's high shows 68F. Checking the CDEC CWD station, today's high shows 70.6F. It's at elevation 10150. Based on those temperatures and seeing that they are really close, I still trust NOAA the most.

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Re: Various weather forecasts
Team Dirty Boots #57692 07/11/20 06:55 PM
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In my limited experience, mountain-forecast tends to underestimate max temps on higher summits. I've typically found it warmer up there than predicted.

Portal at 8300' shouldn't be too bad...Lone Pine, AL Hills will be baking..

Bring layers anyway. What you really want to watch for is any hint of phrases like "monsoonal", "subtropical", "elevated convection", "Gulf moisture tap" or "SE flow" etc. in NWS forecast discussions (Las Vegas, Hanford WFOs). That's when things can get hairy up there.

Last edited by cantare; 07/11/20 06:57 PM.
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Re: Various weather forecasts
cantare #57810 07/29/20 12:13 PM
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Thanks for both your replies.

For what its worth, on our permit day (last Wednesday), as cantare wrote, the temperature at the summit was higher than mountain-forecast.com forecast for that day. Indeed the summit temperature was at the high end of the several forecasts I looked at the day before. But glad we didn't depend on the forecasts. The day before, people coming down the mountain at the edge of the Whitney Zone said it hailed on the switchbacks at approximately 1:30pm. That wasn't in any of the forecasts I saw.

We dressed in layers and were glad. We needed the extra warmth just before and after sunrise, then had blue skies and relatively warm weather the rest of the day. smile

The old adage really holds true, be prepared for anything.

Last edited by Team Dirty Boots; 07/29/20 12:37 PM.

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