Whether you’re a hard-core angler keen on exploring remote rivers and pushing deep into the wild in search of that trophy catch, or someone who just likes to occasionally wet a line in a nearby creek, a fast-packer who heads into the hills alone and unsupported, or simply a day hiker, there’s one thing that all outdoor lovers have in common, the weather. If you’re into the outdoors, you’ve got to be interested in the weather to some degree at least. It’s the one element that binds all outdoor adventurers.

Sometimes it seems like the weather conspires against us, our workdays seem blessed with perfect conditions, while the weekends bring the exact opposite. Getting wet is not the end of the world, it can make you appreciate and connect with nature. The same goes with heat. As a starting point we need to accept that the weather is not our enemy, it’s our friend in fact, it replenishes the streams, creates the snow, creates the waves and grows the trees, in fact it’s responsible for what we went out there to explore in the first place!

It can be extremely beneficial understanding the weather forecasts before you head outdoors. It seems simple, understanding weather forecasts for most people often consists of nothing more than checking the temperature maximum, and seeing if it’s going to rain! But if you look into it in more detail it can become a complicated system of interconnected patterns. You don’t need to go all out and get a PhD in meteorology, but a basic understanding of what atmospheric conditions actually consist of will serve you well in your outdoor adventure planning. Start by paying attention to the weather forecast every day, and notice how the long-range forecasts usually change as they come closer to your intended activity date.

An important part of understanding the forecast is to have a solid knowledge of extreme weather events such as heat waves or cold snaps moving through. The Australian bush might be a pretty place but it can be hostile when the conditions turn nasty and lead to floods, fires or extremes in heat or cold. Exposure to these extreme events can be uncomfortable at best and deadly at worst. Every year bushfires to varying degrees ravage the countryside and floods wash across the land, and in response authorities have created warning systems to give the public the best opportunity to make informed decisions about staying safe. Know what the warning systems and threat levels are, and most importantly, what they mean for you.

Be aware that weather changes can occur very fast at times. Blue skies can disappear into storm clouds before you know it, gale force winds can whip tranquil waters into terrifying tempests, and the sun can burn fiercely even during the middle of winter. Quick changes in the weather are accelerated if you’re at altitude, and whilst the high country in Australia is not ‘that high’ when it comes to mountain ranges of the world, every year people still take the Aussie high country for granted and get caught out unprepared.

It’s particularly useful to get a good understanding of barometric pressure. If you know the recent weather patterns in the pressure system, then you can use any changes (up, down or stable) as a predictive tool both before you set out and while you’re in the field. Pressure differences have a big effect on the weather, and armed with the current air pressure and the air pressure trend, you should be able to predict certain things about the weather system that is moving through the region you’re interested in. As a very rough rule of thumb, a high-pressure area will be clear, and a low-pressure area will be cloudy and rainy.

When all is said and done, remember that forecasts are simply predictions. Sometimes the people at the Bureau of Meteorology get it bang on correct, while at other times they can be completely off. So, don’t let the forecast put you off from heading outdoors, inform yourself about the weather in some greater detail, and use that knowledge to prepare appropriately for the conditions that you’re likely to be confronted with. Be prepared to pull out if extreme conditions look as though they may put you in jeopardy, but never let normal weather cycles ruin your weekend, embrace the outdoors and all weather conditions to get the most from all your adventures.

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