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#184343 - 04/07/14 08:15 PM Storm
ETSU Pride Offline
member

Registered: 10/25/10
Posts: 931
Loc: Knoxville, TN
This is going to be kind of a long post, but bear with me because it might be a fun discussion! grin

Last night we had a 70 MPH damaging wind to sweep through the country side real fast. When I realized how bad it was getting, I opened the door to go to the storm shelter, only to feel the most powerful wind I ever felt in recent memory sweep through my house. I said f that, and pushed my door shut and rode it out in my house. The wind died down about 2 minutes after that. Man, I was lucky. The storm knocked down at least 6 trees around my house. Only one caused property damage, no electricity from 9pm until 2pm the next day as the power lines were laying in the road. Thankfully, my freezer kept a good seal to keep all the food frozen.

After the worst had passed, I started thinking about backpacking as I lie in bed. In April 2011 I was at Grayson Highlands and the Jefferson National Forest and we got hammered with a storm. I was setting up my tent and saw the storm approaching. I quickly anchored all the guy lines out, and the moment I got in my tent, down comes the hard rain. After a few minute the rain stop, and my group had a tarp set up, so then we proceed to cook dinner. Later that night, I saw lightenings miles away and coming closer. I bunkered down in my tent then rode out a mild wind and intense thunderstorm. That was first and LAST time I ever slept through a storm in a tent. The next morning I realized everything underneath my rain-fly was completely dried. I can thank Big Agnes for that! smile Later that day we walked through hail, rain, lightening, etc., it was a surreal experience. We was on an exposed highlands (I'm sure Glenn knows what I'm talking about as he been here before! smile ) walking about 40 yards apart, then when we got off the open ridge, we hunkered down and let the lightning passed. It was just surreal. lol.

Then I started thinking about how I could survive if I got caught in unexpected wind storm like last night while backpacking. Maybe I need to swap my small nylon rope that came with my Big Agnes out for Amsteel blue lines I have for my tarp, but not for either one of my tents. Amsteel is really light and really strong, and I'm curious exactly how much wind it take to break it or blow a stake out of the ground. I'm not sure if I want to be flying around the mountain.. Seriously, last night after the worst had passed, all i could think about was how to be safe while backpacking in a damaging wind storm that seemed to have blind sided me...

What's your stormiest moment while in the backcountry and how did you make it through the night? Do tell of your setup to anchor your tents down, if you like, so others can read and learn.
_________________________
It is one of the blessings of wilderness life that it shows us how few things we need in order to be perfectly happy.-- Horace Kephart

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#184352 - 04/08/14 11:48 AM Re: Storm [Re: ETSU Pride]
Dryer Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 12/05/02
Posts: 3582
Loc: Texas
Interesting stuff! I'm the local ham radio storm spotter for this end of Dallas County and run a radio "net" of other spotters when things look bad. We alert the fire chief, who then sets off sirens. Every two years, all of us take a National Weather Service weather class (comes in three levels) to stay current on the latest. I highly recommend taking the class (free). Get with your local ham radio club and they will get you hooked up.

Quote:
What's your stormiest moment while in the backcountry and how did you make it through the night? Do tell of your setup to anchor your tents down, if you like, so others can read and learn.


Two come to mind....
1) was in a canyon in the south Texas desert. Clear skies. Turns out, when the sun sets, cool air spills over the canyon headwall and accelerates down the canyon. You can hear it before it hits, every 15 minutes, all night long! Broke all my tent hoops and I felt like I was on the roof of a speeding car, in 15 minute bursts, tent wrapped around my head. (note to self...don't camp withing 2 miles of a canyon headwall.
2) was in a hammock this time. Saw thunderstorm heading our way. Straight line winds whipped rain and hail horizontal to the point I had to stand under the rainfly and hold hammock/bag/clothing in a bunch until it blew threw. Painful, but my stuff stayed dry. Rain was literally blowing UP under the fly, which was trying to "fly". grin

Stronger lines won't do you any good, really. Tornadic or straight line winds will treat your shelter like tissue paper, and debris doesn't care what you are hiding in. The best spotter/chaser advice is to get as low as you can, all things considered, and/or behind or under something that can't move. Lightening, is another matter all together and depends on where you are...mountain, lake, flats, etc.
_________________________
paul, texas KD5IVP

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#184354 - 04/08/14 01:03 PM Re: Storm [Re: ETSU Pride]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2795
Loc: California
Best shelter in a wind storm is a mountaineering quality bivy sack.

Worst storm I was in was a 5-day blizzard in December at the base of the Grand Teton. We were quite comfortable inside a huge snow cave.

When above timber I pay close attention to wind sheltered places as I hike and select a campsite assuming it will be windy. I tie down my tent with large rocks (as big as I can pick up). I always back up the front and back stakes with large rocks. Since I do a lot above timber, I generally use mountaineering quality tents. If I use my Tarptent Moment (which is very wind-worthy) I will often also take a bivy sack as backup. Total weight is 3.5 pounds. The nice thing about having a bivy is that at any moment you can have shelter.

When sheltering from the wind be sure to also consider lightning. A shallow cave or shallow hollow is NOT a good location in lightning. If in timber be aware that in a severe wind storm trees can fall down.


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#184356 - 04/08/14 01:43 PM Re: Storm [Re: ETSU Pride]
Pika Online   content
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1754
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
I once was camped out in Nevada during what the locals call a "Washoe Zephyr". No rain but a brisk breeze. Mark Twain on the Washoe Zephyr wind: "It blows flimsy houses down, lifts shingle roofs occasionally, rolls up tin ones like sheet music, now and then blows a stage coach over and spills the passengers; and tradition says the reason there are so many bald people there, is, that the wind blows the hair off their heads ... "

I also weathered several katabatic winds in Antarctica. These are cold air drainage winds that can reach 100+ mph when funneled through the valleys. We were in high-end expedition-type mountain tents which held up just fine but flapped and snapped for fair. Sand and ice crystals blown in the wind stripped the paint from the windward side of our small radio generator during one storm.
_________________________
May I walk in beauty.

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#184358 - 04/08/14 01:58 PM Re: Storm [Re: ETSU Pride]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3915
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
The idea of braving a storm is a romantic notion best tempered with realism.

The worst storms I've been in while camping have all done pretty much the same thing. They blew flat over every tent I've used but I stayed in it and mostly dry. Several of them blew down tree branches that came very close to hitting me, and a few blew down entire trees close enough by to ensure I well understood how lucky I was not to be underneath them.

Now I plan most of my trips when no storms are forecast and pay attention to NOAA weather forecasts while I'm out there. It's pretty rare to get more than 3 days in a row here with a clear forecast, but the risks are too great to ignore when severe storms are a possibility.

Just last Friday a lightning bolt nailed a tree about 60 feet from me while I was sitting in my office. I'd got up from my desk just a few minutes before and looked outside and then decided not to walk to the house because the risk of a lightning strike was too great. The tree is about a 60 year old White Oak about 4' in diameter and the bolt blew a good deal of bark off the trunk all the way around it. I'm sure it won't survive.

I've seen huge pieces of wood blown off our trees here and some of them stuck several feet into our hard and rocky ground. I'm talking spear sharp pieces of solid oak 12 feet long weighing up to 100 pounds flying over a 100 feet.

I've walked in forests here after they were hit with downburst and straight line winds where dozens (hundreds) of huge old trees are all blown down in the same direction.

Quote:
Then I started thinking about how I could survive if I got caught in unexpected wind storm like last night while backpacking.


At that point I'm convinced that good luck, pure karma, and prayer, are all you really have going for you out there and your pushing their limits each time you're out in those conditions.

Getting low into a steep hollow is about the best you can do. I've watched trees getting whipped on the ridges while it was pretty calm in the hollow. Hunkering down and grounding your feet good might help when lighting is present.

Do check out the NOAA mobile app. It's got a radar feature that shows storms coming and it shows your location so you can estimate how long before a front will hit you.

I made an app myself using NOAA's data. It's at navigraphic.com. Mine still needs some work, but the radar and location features work good on it and that's all I really wanted when I made it. It's probably faster than NOAA's for just the radar.

These apps can help save your butt. They don't work when there's no connection, but when they do work they're great to have.
_________________________
--

"You want to go where?"



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#184359 - 04/08/14 01:58 PM Re: Storm [Re: ETSU Pride]
aimless Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2941
Loc: Portland, OR
Just as a contrast to the heroic conditions braved by other forum members, I am a fair weather backpacker, usually confining myself to June through September when the weather in the Pacific Northwest is reliably moderate (or mostly so). The worst I've ever dealt with are some brief, but vigorous thunderstorms that dumped several inches of hail in a quarter hour and blew gusts up to a moderate 25 or 30 mph, some wet snowfall at night that melted by noon the next day, and a couple of multi-day bouts of steady, but quiet, rain with fog.

Nothing much, really. Certainly nothing dire. But don't get me wrong, I am not complaining. smile

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#184363 - 04/08/14 02:25 PM Re: Storm [Re: aimless]
OregonMouse Online   content
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6490
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I've been in a lot of really bad storms and survived. Batten down the hatches and do your best! A couple of times when a stake has pulled I've just pulled down the pole, wrapped up in the tent and waited out the storm.

Just to reiterate what's already been said: Lightning protection is really important! In the Rockies, it's best to plan your day so your exposed high altitude hiking is done in the morning and you're down off the heights by 1-2 pm. The storms may be daily or less frequent, but be ready for them to happen! If they don't, and you're where you can see thunderstorms start to form, then you can keep going. But be ready to head down at short notice.

And do watch those trees you're camped near or under, and never camp near dead, dying or leaning trees. A tree--or even a large heavy branch--falling on your tent--well, they're called "widow makers" for a reason!

For short trips, it's good to check the forecast. For longer trips, you really can't predict the weather more than a few days ahead, so you have to take what comes. Even if there's no rain in the forecast, I assume it will happen. Mountains make their own weather!
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#184380 - 04/09/14 03:16 PM Re: Storm [Re: aimless]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3915
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Quote:
Just as a contrast to the heroic conditions braved by other forum members, I am a fair weather backpacker,


Me too. I plan around great weather as much as possible.

I didn't used to be so whiny about storms but the past decade they've kicked us around pretty hard here.

_________________________
--

"You want to go where?"



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#184390 - 04/09/14 07:02 PM Re: Storm [Re: billstephenson]
bluefish Offline
member

Registered: 06/05/13
Posts: 678
A true hurricane on the Massachusetts coast gave a severe test to our Sierra Design Stretch Dome. Not only did we reinforce the corners with the provided aluminum stiffeners but we did an interior guy line structure like a spider web. 85+ and it flapped like a card in a bike wheel going 40 and rocked like a drunken boat , but did not tear or break. We watched 40 footers come in the mouth of the Merrimack in the morning as it wound down. It's also seen 18" of snow piled on it in Vt. and withstood many other heavy winds in the Adirondacks and Whites. Surprisingly, our tight quartered BA Fly Creek 2 has seen some heavy winds and tremendous downpours. An afternoon at 11 k in the Sierra with severe thunderstorms was particularly memorable. As was a day up the West Prong of the Little River in the Smokies. We got back to our car just in time, as they shut down the road into the trail head due to imminent flooding. It rained hard the other night in Bright Angel Campground down in the Grand Canyon along with some gusty howling, but once again stayed bone dry. We' re starting to trust that tent. Time to look for another, it's bound to fail miserably soon...... grin We seem to attract bad weather, but it doesn't deter us...yet.
_________________________
Charlie

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#184392 - 04/09/14 07:51 PM Re: Storm [Re: bluefish]
ETSU Pride Offline
member

Registered: 10/25/10
Posts: 931
Loc: Knoxville, TN
I've camped on the Litttle River in the Smokies. smile Sounds like you got epic stories and lot of amazing memories.


Edited by ETSU Pride (04/09/14 07:52 PM)
_________________________
It is one of the blessings of wilderness life that it shows us how few things we need in order to be perfectly happy.-- Horace Kephart

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#184393 - 04/09/14 08:00 PM Re: Storm [Re: ETSU Pride]
bluefish Offline
member

Registered: 06/05/13
Posts: 678
Originally Posted By ETSU Pride
I've camped on the Litttle River in the Smokies. smile Sounds like you got epic stories and lot of amazing memories.

I knew you would recognize that. grin We've camped in Elkmont a good dozen times, besides some backpacks in that area. I love fishing the rhody hells. The Little ain't little when it comes to beauty.
_________________________
Charlie

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#184394 - 04/09/14 08:04 PM Re: Storm [Re: bluefish]
ETSU Pride Offline
member

Registered: 10/25/10
Posts: 931
Loc: Knoxville, TN
I hiked Little River in 2012 and we stayed at campsite 30. My two partners at the time caught several trouts near the campsite. It was a cool trip.


Edited by ETSU Pride (04/09/14 08:05 PM)
_________________________
It is one of the blessings of wilderness life that it shows us how few things we need in order to be perfectly happy.-- Horace Kephart

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#184414 - 04/11/14 12:22 AM Re: Storm [Re: ETSU Pride]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada

I've been in some howlers in the rockies, Especially above the treeline that can be kind of challenging. *usually* I have a little warning and ensure I get my tent or shelter into somewhere, well, sheltered.

Having done it a number of times it no longer scares me. let's
see, I've had:

- tent flattened, wrap up and wait it out. I didn't like that much. so..

- Get up middle of night and move tent 200 meters to big rocks, Carrying tent with all my stuff in it, keeping it dry. Because I wanted to have my stuff relatively dry, I stuffed everything I could stuff into my backpack, zipped my bag and everything into my tent, and did this buck naked except for my boots.. Nobody was around to see smile Got the world secured down again in the lee of the rock pile, and crawled back in and warmed up.

- Most recently, in New zealand, been pinned for three days worth of massive storm (that took out huts) - we hid in a cave/rock cleft.

now having said that I've had lots of times where I've ridden things out just fine, and with a really good rig, you can manage most anything. I've ridden out ones where the wind came at right angles and I was in my hammock where (with rockpiles on each tarp line because I knew it was coming) I've had the tarp (which was drum tight) occasionally blown all the way to against my hammock and had the wind rocking me back and forth like the dickens, honestly, it was great. I was confident everything would hold or I could fix it, and riding out the storm in comfort is a great feeling.

I also have a relatively light but very capable black diamond solo tent, that will take a lot more of a beating than most things. with it staked out with high support lines and rocks it can take anything that's thrown at it wind wise, and I've had some fun times in it in massive wind and thunderstorms.

So I suppose I'm far from a fair weather hiker, I actually even enjoy getting clobbered at night, I find it very relaxing to sit in my own little personal bit of comfort with a storm outside. Does that make me strange?





_________________________
Any fool can be uncomfortable...
My 3 season gear list
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#184417 - 04/11/14 08:36 AM Re: Storm [Re: phat]
Dryer Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 12/05/02
Posts: 3582
Loc: Texas
Quote:
So I suppose I'm far from a fair weather hiker, I actually even enjoy getting clobbered at night, I find it very relaxing to sit in my own little personal bit of comfort with a storm outside. Does that make me strange?


Not at all! I love that stuff...it's part of the "unknown" factor that makes all this fun. Crashing through waves and spray in our sailboats and kayaks brings life to the sport. A little surprise weather at night, as you say, can be relaxing. Tornadoes are NOT relaxing. Most hammock hangers know that 'bucking bronco' feel from hanging from springy saplings buffeted by wind is actually kinda cool! grin
_________________________
paul, texas KD5IVP

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#184418 - 04/11/14 08:53 AM Re: Storm [Re: phat]
ETSU Pride Offline
member

Registered: 10/25/10
Posts: 931
Loc: Knoxville, TN
Originally Posted By phat


So I suppose I'm far from a fair weather hiker, I actually even enjoy getting clobbered at night, I find it very relaxing to sit in my own little personal bit of comfort with a storm outside. Does that make me strange?







Very weird, VERY WEIRD! grin
_________________________
It is one of the blessings of wilderness life that it shows us how few things we need in order to be perfectly happy.-- Horace Kephart

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#184434 - 04/11/14 05:34 PM Re: Storm [Re: ETSU Pride]
BarryP Offline
member

Registered: 03/04/04
Posts: 1574
Loc: Eastern Idaho
July 2012 I was in Wind Rivers with some Boy Scouts. I agreed to drive them there if I could hike with them. We were on the highline trail. The sky behind us started getting this weird color:


So above tree line-- and the wind came in hard. Hail was coming in horizontal. Lightning cracked everywhere. Instead of asking their scoutmaster what to do they asked me what to do! No shelter above tree line! I yelled “Scatter, everyone find their own boulder and get on the SW side!”

That buffeted the wind. I whipped out my 6oz umbrella and held it over me as I crouched by my boulder. Wind Rivers shredded my umbrella. Ironically my cheap poncho held out. This lasted for 2 hours as the boys were scattered and crouched. Then the boy in jeans with a 50lb pack started to exhibit hypothermia. I told the patrol leader we need to get moving in this rain to get 50lb-backpack boy warming. The patrol leader called his boys in and said “let’s pray!”. Within 10 seconds of saying Amen, the skies turned like this:



Why didn’t we pray sooner? How can boys have that much power? It’s funny; in storms I always forget to take pictures; I want a picture for remembering those good times!
After Wind Rivers I got the 8oz Golite umbrella. That performs much better! --- Though I gave up a little weight and pack size. BTW, Wind Rivers is perfect for sandals. It was wet and a lot of stream crossings. One adult leader had boots. He didn’t care anymore after 5 days and just walked through streams with them. They dried out a month later; but the smell never left.

I have several other storm stories --- because I seem to always get caught in storms; it’s my luck. But it reminds me we are peons on this planet. Mother Earth rules and we can’t change her --- nor would I try. She’s beautiful.

May everyone weather the storm
-Barry
-The mountains were made for Tevas (I found that out when I moved here)

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#184444 - 04/12/14 01:14 PM Re: Storm [Re: BarryP]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3915
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Great story Barry! And pics too!

I'm with the patrol leader, it never hurts to pray in a storm. smile
_________________________
--

"You want to go where?"



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#184452 - 04/12/14 03:55 PM Re: Storm [Re: ETSU Pride]
DTape Offline
member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 660
Loc: Upstate NY
Neat reading others stories, here is mine...

A few years back, I was finishing some maintenance with a group of volunteers in the Adirondacks. Two of us had decided to finish up and camp on site. Our location was nearby a small lake surrounded on all sides sans its outlet by a ridge line formed by glaciers. Unbeknownst to us a storm was moving up the east coast. These are referred to as Nor'Easters and can vary in intensity and precipitation. I was in my hammock and my buddy in his tent 50 yards away at most. In the middle of the night, the wind started to pick up, I felt myself start to sway in th hammock and the tarp began to flap a little. I fell back asleep and awoke as the storm grew more intense. I could hear the winds running along the ridge line like a train and then a few moments later a huge gust would come rushing through. This intensified as did the rain. My tarp was flapping, but stayed secure (I use rigging line designed for sails). At one point in the middle of the storm, a tree came down. Based on the direction and perceived distance, I worried in landed on Chuck's tent. Since the wind gusts allowed for briefs pauses of relative quiet, I listened for calls for help. Apparently Chuck was thinking the same thing as the tree had come down between us. We were both safe, warm and dry but our blood pressure certainly increased when that tree came down. I still camp in that area and think about that storm every time I visit the spot.
_________________________
http://ducttapeadk.blogspot.com

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#184456 - 04/12/14 06:18 PM Re: Storm [Re: DTape]
ETSU Pride Offline
member

Registered: 10/25/10
Posts: 931
Loc: Knoxville, TN
Holy crap!
_________________________
It is one of the blessings of wilderness life that it shows us how few things we need in order to be perfectly happy.-- Horace Kephart

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