Mountain with ‚hat‘ – the weather will be good!
Generally speaking it is important to check the weather forecast before each hike. With our knowledge of the weather, it will be even easier for you to recognise the signs of nature when hiking in the mountains, „If Mount Dachstein wears a hat, the weather will be fine again. If Mount Dachstein sports a saber, the weather will be miserable.“ This weather rule applies to numerous local mountains when hiking in the Alps. A cloud hat is therefore usually a guarantee for stable weather conditions without rain or thunderstorms.
In general, a look at the sky is a good idea – even small changes can provide information about the weather. Towering anvil clouds and scattered feather clouds herald a bad weather front. Do you have an altimeter with you? Then you should take a look at it before bed. If the display rises significantly (by around 30 metres in altitude) until the morning hours, the air pressure has fallen and a cold front and bad weather can usually be expected.
Cloud towers, contrails and rainbows
Sometimes within a short time a cloud tower develops from harmless rags of cloud which can develop into a thunderstorm. If you observe such a weather development, it is advisable to have a safe shelter within a range of 30 minutes. If you are no longer able to reach such a safe destination, we recommend: find a hollow and crouch down with your legs together on an insulating surface such as your hiking backpack.
Contrails in the sky are another sign that can be helpful in interpreting the weather. When the streaks stop in the sky or spread out, a change in weather is coming. If the contrails dissipate quickly, the weather will remain fine. A rainbow in the morning, on the other hand, is an indication of bad weather, with the colourful arc in the afternoon or evening being a good weather sign.
Well informed: check the digital weather report
In general, find out more before you go on a hike and only plan a hiking tour by looking at the weather map. Weather apps help you keep track of the current weather. The weather app „bergfex“ offers, for instance, forecasts for hiking in the Alps. For hiking holidays in South Tyrol, we recommend the app „Wetter Südtirol“ (Weather South Tyrol). The app for iPhones and iPad is available here, the app for Android devices is here.
- Find out on our HikingBlog what to look out for when hiking at higher altitudes.
Weather services for your safe hiking tour
Whether hiking in the Alps, on a hiking holiday with the family, hiking with a dog or on an individual hiking holiday – numerous weather services offer a reliable source of information and weather forecasts. Here is an overview:
- The German Alpine Association (DAV) informs you daily about the current mountain weather in the Alps. Simply select a region and view the short-term or long-term forecast.
- The Austrian Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics (ZAMG) also supplies the DAV with its data. Reliable information is guaranteed. Here you can find the latest information about the weather in the Alps every day at 4pm.
- The best way to find out about weather conditions in the mountains in Switzerland is on the MeteoSwiss website. Here you can find all the details including rain radar – from the Canton of Grisons to the Canton of Jura.
- Another reliable source of information for the weather forecast is the online weather service meteoblue.
Our tip: the current weather forecast is displayed in many huts. If in doubt, you can also ask the chalet host.
Thunderstorm on the mountain – what now?
If you get caught in a thunderstorm despite planning your tour carefullly, there are some important points to consider: if possible, look for shelter in a closed building such as a refuge. If you are on an alpine meadow, sit down on an insulating surface (i.e. hiking backpack) or look for a hollow. Crouch down, draw your legs up and wait out the thunderstorm. Other recommendations:
- Avoid exposed areas such as peaks and ridges.
- Are you on a via ferrata? Immediately go to the nearest possible exit point and step away from the steel cable.
- Under no circumstances should you shelter under a tree. There is a high risk of a lightning strike there.
Ideal hiking clothing
You are facing light rain or are surprised by a cold front? Be well prepared and pack multifunctional gear and clothing. Waterproof shoes with non-slip soles are essential. But a water-repellent and breathable rain jacket is also part of the basic equipment for hiking in nature. Are you planning a trekking tour in the high mountains? Do not forget to wear warm clothing together with a hat, scarf and gloves, because even in midsummer cool temperatures can prevail here.
- You can read even more information about the ideal hiking clothes for every season on our HikingBlog.