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Old 08-29-10, 10:43 AM   #1
drmweaver2
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Weather planning for tours based on historical/Internet research

Something that comes up periodically is weather planning for tours beginning sometime in the future relatively distant future. Local/short-term planning is a completely different animal and can usually be handled with local radio/television forecasts.

Something that I've had relative success with is using www.wunderground.com's history function. For instance, http://www.wunderground.com/history/...lyHistory.html is the page for Feb. 2010's weather in Tallahassee, Florida. Temps (max, min and avg/day), wind (max, min, gusts), precip and other data is included. The most useful compilation/display of the data is near the bottom - even downloadable as a comma delimited file for incorporation into either your own personal database or an Excel spreadsheet for future manipulation/reference.

The one unfortunate thing is they don't have wind direction data.

Speaking of which, wind rose data is available for the US from a few sites. Unfortunately, it's generally either an overwhelming amount of data from a huge number of sites or it's very site specific - as in a single location. What I have yet to find are state-by-state or regional prevailing winds charts/maps on a month-by-month or season-by-season basis. Does anyone know of such a resource?

Does anyone else do similar weather research in their tour planning? What resources do you find most useful - especially if one does not rely on the ACA maps?
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Old 08-29-10, 11:36 AM   #2
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No, I don't know of a source. I keep close tabs on our local weather and what tends to happen is that we're either having a cold or a hot spell, but rarely right on the historical average. As such, I think when planning for any event (tour, wedding, backyard party, etc.), it would be very helpful to find the standard deviation from the average in order to establish a fairly predictable range of temperatures and winds. With rain, you can look at historical averages and usually determine what the wet and dry seasons are, but again a standard deviation would be very useful.
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Old 08-29-10, 11:52 AM   #3
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Climate change is a mechanism in progress

hotter air drys more in some places ,

holds more moisture in others ..
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Old 08-29-10, 12:13 PM   #4
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+1 for wunderground's history... I use it mainly to work out which sleeping bag to take (2 or 3 season)...

No idea about a wind direction resource, but I think it always blows in the opposite direction from the one you're riding :/
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Old 08-29-10, 01:33 PM   #5
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For Canada: http://www.climate.weatheroffice.gc.ca/Welcome_e.html

I use the climate normals all the time.
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Old 08-29-10, 02:58 PM   #6
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I guess... I typically just Google "climate" and "place I plan to go." Or, I'm using a guide book which already has that info in it.
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Old 08-29-10, 03:11 PM   #7
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Wunderground has wind direction listed in the daily information. Somewhere NOAA has wind charts that show the prevailing winds and the time of year. I have found that the it really doesn't matter. You just have to take what is provided...as in Weather WILL BE Provided!

I did a transcontinental in 1977 SUPPOSEDLY the prevailing winds across the plains were from the west...didn't happen. Two of our worst head wind days occurred on that leg of the trip.

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Old 08-29-10, 05:02 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
I have found that the it really doesn't matter. You just have to take what is provided...as in Weather WILL BE Provided!

I did a transcontinental in 1977 SUPPOSEDLY the prevailing winds across the plains were from the west...didn't happen. Two of our worst head wind days occurred on that leg of the trip.
Well, sort of. "Prevailing winds" doesn't mean that's what you'll get each day. However, if one plans tours 3 months to a year in advance, picking a month or months to tour can increase the chances of being prepared for winds from a certain direction. THEN you deal with what occurs when you are on the road. I find prevailing wind data helps in planning - IF/when I can find it. You don't want to head north on the PCH expecting northbound winds most of the way. Information is rarely worthless; the more I have, the better decision-making I do beforehand. YMMV
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Old 08-29-10, 05:18 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
I did a transcontinental in 1977 SUPPOSEDLY the prevailing winds across the plains were from the west...didn't happen. Two of our worst head wind days occurred on that leg of the trip.
Prevailing surface winds on the plains are typically not from the West at least not in Summer. Usually the wind on most of the plains are from the SE in the summer. Not sure what route you were on but if it was the TA then headwinds were very likely for eastbound travel.



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Old 08-29-10, 07:39 PM   #10
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If you really want to get nerdy about the weather stats in the USA, I use Weather America, 2001 (ISBN: 1-891482-29-7) which is a very detailed weather almanac that has the 30-year individual monthly and yearly averages including wind direction and speed, all temps (min, avg., high, etc.), days of rain, sky coverage %, humidity, etc. It also summarizes the data which is compiled by the National Weather Service.

It lists all NWS Stations in the US. For instance, Oklahoma has 93 stations and each station's monthly & yearly data is listed. The dang book is about 3.5 inches thick so it is pretty inclusive. It is only printed periodically and can be pricey if new but used is pretty cheap ($10-$20) on-line depending on where you buy. They have a 2010 version but it is $175!
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Old 08-29-10, 08:15 PM   #11
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Thanks TulsaJohn. I might pick up a copy of that - found a used 1 for $5.28.
Otoh, I see that I overlooked the wind direction info on weather underground on their history-place-monthly_display_page(s). Though it's not presented in tabular/downloadable form like the other data, it is in graph form which could be converted to include in the table. Then I could manipulate/search the data in Excel/Access pretty easily ---- while the book would require entering all the data manually (I won't even think how long that might take).

I got an email from a university professor of climatology/meteorology out west who thinks he might be able to convince a grad student/senior class undergrad that this might be an interesting project/thesis/conference paper. His department actually has a huge wind rose research project already active though it's specific to the western US. We'll see what happens.
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Old 08-29-10, 10:54 PM   #12
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I also use the Wunderground's Monthly View as you indicated above for wind direction. Be sure to look at several years for the same month(s) to get a gut feeling on the average direction as it can definitely vary year to year it seems. It seems I always get the colder, rainier, wind in opposite direction years when I tour

Take care, John
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