By Contributing Writer Aparna Rajagopal-Durbin, faculty member and Diversity + Inclusion Manager at the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS); Photograph by Ashley Wise
A lightning storm had just struck, with bolts hitting the peaks less than a quarter mile away. After waiting it out in lightning position, my NOLS coursemates and I thought the worst of it was over, and headed to our tents, which were perched on a buttress below Mount Victor. As we started a class on leadership styles, we observed a dark cloud build-up over the peak. Halfway through class, the mass started to swirl ... fast. (Remember the sky in Ghostbusters, right before Gozer is summoned?) Minutes later, as we hunkered down in our tents gripping the walls as they flapped fiercely in 100-mile-per-hour winds, the funnel cloud touched down. A tornado? At 11,000 feet?
On a monthlong expedition in the backcountry, you are at the whims of the weather gods. Out there, the weather report isn’t a mouse-click away. And while adequate layering and gear can prepare you for the worst, there are also some ways you can predict what the weather gods might have in store for you today.