Mountain Safety! This way you read the weather in the mountains correctly

Mountain with a ‘hat’ – means the weather is going to be great! 

Are you planning a hiking tour in the mountains? Then we strongly recommend you check the weather forecast. Since the biggest danger in the mountains are thunderstorms and unpredictable cold fronts. In order to prevent hairy situations like these, we will explain to you how to read the weather correctly and how to protect yourself from a thunderstorm when in the mountains.

Recognise the signs of nature

‘If Mount Dachstein wears a ‘hat’, the weather improves. If Mount Dachstein wears a ‘sabel’ the weather gets really bad’. No kidding! These old weather sayings apply to countless local mountains in the Alps. A ‘cloud hat’ hence usually guarantees good, stable weather conditions without rain or thunderstorms. Generally a glance at the sky is not a bad idea – even the tiniest changes can give you an indication of the weather. Anvil clouds building higher and higher in the sky and becoming wider at the tips of it as well as feathery clouds indicate a bad weather front.

Are you carrying an altimeter with you? Then we recommend you check it before you go to bed. If the indication clearly rises in the early morning hours (approx. 30m in altitude), that means air pressure has decreased and this usually indicates a cold front and bad weather. Be warned!

Always informed – check the weather forecast  

The general rule is, inform yourself and never plan your tour without checking the weather forecast beforehand. Weather-apps can help keeping an eye on current weather conditions. The weather-app ‘bergfex’ for instance offers forecasts for the entire Alpine region – from Slovenia via Austria, Germany and Switzerland all the way to Italy.

In addition for South Tyrol we especially recommend the app ‘Wetter Südtirol’. Precise data on the seven districts of South Tyrol including precipitation radar and info on lightning activity make for a save hiking tour.

Weather services in German in the Alps

  • The German Alpine Association (GAA) informs you daily about current weather conditions in the Alps. Simply choose a certain region and look at the short-term or long-term forecast. Daily at 4pm a new weather forecast is issued.
  • Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics also provides its data for the GAA. Reliable info is guaranteed. Here too do you get the latest info regarding weather in the Alps daily at 4pm.
  • Info about the weather in the Swiss mountains is best obtained on the website ‘MeteoSchweiz’. Here you find all necessary data including rain warnings from the Canton of Grisons to the Jura Mountains.


Tip: Many huts and chalets display the current weather forecast. If in doubt please feel free to ask the chalet host.

Thunderstorms on the mountain – now what?

Should you still get caught in a thunderstorm despite exact tour planning, please note the following points: try and find a fairly open space such as an alpine meadow or field and sit down on an insulated layer (rucksack or climbing rope). Crouch down, pulling in your legs and wait for the thunderstorm to pass! Ideally you want to find a refuge.

Further Tips:

  • Avoid exposed places such as summits and ridges.
  • Are you on a via ferrata? Proceed immediately to the next exit point and step away from the steel rope.
  • Do not shelter under a tree at any rate, since there is the highest risk of a lightning stroke.

There is not ‘bad’ weather, only wrong clothing

Light rain or a startling cold front? – Be prepared and invest in good-quality equipment. Waterproof shoes with a grippy sole is the essential thing. But also a waterproof and breathable rain jacket is a must as part of your hiking equipment. Are you planning a tour in the Alpine mountains? Do not forget to bring warm clothing, a hat, scarf and gloves – even at the height of summer.


Any more questions? We are happy to assist you!

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