The following article was published in
the March 1998 issue of THE PRIME TIMES
(c) PIVETZ 1998
TRAVELIN SMART and SAFE
by Dick Pivetz
Whether (to go) and weather (the natural occurrence) may sound the same, but one can be much more significant than the other as far as trip-planning is concerned. If you dont believe me, just ask someone who went on a weekend camp-out without checking the weather forecast. Rain? Wind? Dipping temperatures? Searing heat-waves? All can make or break a trip.
Daytrips to the beach or picnics in the park dont require a degree in meteorology as a key factor in trip planning. Just look out the window -- if its nice, you go; if its raining, a trip to the movie becomes Plan B. When planning a longer trip, though, the story changes dramatically. You still dont need the meteorology degree, but the smart traveler moves weather knowledge up near the top of his checklist.
The importance of weather knowledge increases directly with the length of the trip. The farther one goes, the more research is required. Simple formula. While weather fronts often move quickly across the country, weather patterns, elevation-related temperature changes and traditional weather history are fairly constant and predictable. Sometimes though, paying attention to the weather is easier said than done. Example: Its hard to remember to pack the space heater when heading out on a camping trip to the Black Hills of South Dakota or Yellowstone National Park, while in the middle of an Alabama summer heatwave. Does anyone know how cold it can get at 7,800 feet above sea level in Wyoming in early August? I can tell you -- pretty darn cold.
Its no wonder that in his recent book, "US 50 - Coast to Coast," noted travel author Wulf Berg, repeatedly brought weather into prominence. The book tells the story of a journey across America on US 50 -- starting at Ocean City, Maryland and arriving in California. Three weeks on the road and a few thousand miles -- weather might become as important as gas for the car. Incidentally, those wishing to read excerpts from the book or find out more about the trip, can contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org Route 50, while not as famous as noted cousin Route 66, is nonetheless, one of Americas premier cross country adventures.
A ton of resources are available to help you build weather knowledge for those extensive trips. Tom Loffmans "Travelers Weather Guide" (10 Speed Press, 800/841-BOOK) is outstanding. And of course, The Weather Channel on television is a big favorite. You can also reach TWC at its website - www.weather.com. Several other Internet sites will provide unlimited information, both about weather along the route and at your chosen destination. And, a trip to the local bookstore can also find a treasure chest full of weather information waiting.
Weather information and its importance can be crucial to planning a successful trip -- else you might end up visiting the normally-dry desert area of southern Arizona during the middle of their June "monsoon" season. Been there, done that.