How does elevation affect precipitation?
This seems to be a basic science question, but not many are aware of its answer. Of course, if you are a hiker or backpacker, you should have a good understanding of these factors. After all, many of your adventures will require you to set off on mountainous or hilly areas. You should come well-prepared so that you can combat the effects of elevation to the weather.
Hence, if you are climbing a peak of 20,000 feet, the temperature on the top would be 72 degrees Fahrenheit colder than the ground. It is for this reason why mountain climbers are required to wear highly insulated clothing to combat the cold.
Meanwhile, winds at high elevations are stronger than in low elevations. The cold temperature on the top could also promote excessive precipitation. After all, cold air doesn't hold moisture well as compared to warm air. The moisture comes from the condensation of ice and snow.
On the other hand, the leeward portions of these mountains remain parch because the clouds don't reach them.
Based on the explanations I've made, one could say that the elevation affects the weather in a number of ways. The higher you go, the windy and rainy it becomes. Conditions at the top are susceptible to sudden and heavy precipitation due to their proximity to the troposphere.
Always remember that most of the things that are related to weather take place in the troposphere, which contains up to 75% of the atmosphere of the total mass. It also holds roughly 99% of the Earth's water vapor. Generally, the troposphere is just a few kilometers higher than Mt. Everest.
Within the troposphere, air pressure and temperature are volatile. The higher the elevation, the lower these factors become. Because of this phenomenon, it is not surprising that snow and rain are common on mountain tops rather than at sea level.
The short answer is simple: you'll experience coldness and a lot of precipitation. You have to deal with rain and snow frequently, especially if the season is cold.
But allow me to expound these things further:
While you ascend to a mountain, air pressure decreases and altitude increases. At sea level, the air around us has a pressure of 14.7 pounds per square inch. As elevation increases, air pressure decreases. If you go to the top of a 10,000-foot mountain, such as Pike's Peak, air pressure will have decreased to the equivalent of around 8,000 feet above sea level. This means you will have less oxygen in your lungs and bloodstream than at sea level.
As you climb to higher elevations, your body has to work harder to get oxygen to your brain. At high altitudes, there simply isn't enough oxygen for everyone. Altitude sickness occurs when your body has trouble getting enough oxygen even when you are breathing normally.
The Northeast houses some of the most beautiful summits in the United States. It gets windy and snowy in this area during the winter. Most of the time, the conditions are too brutal that high-elevation camping or hiking is not recommended during the cold season. Hence, it is ideal to go during the fall and summer season, where the daylight hours are long for an all-out adventure. The picturesque foliage can also make your trip eye-catching.
The Southeast is popular for its panoramic mountains, rapid rivers, and the ever-conspicuous Great Smoky Mountains. It is a place that welcomes you to an all-year-round adventure. Since the winters in the Southeast are calmer than in the Northeast, you are free to do off-season hikes. During the summer, you can take advantage of the swimming holes that are scattered around its popular hiking destinations.
The Midwest hides some of the finest hiking destinations that the United States can offer. On its own, the region is filled with natural grandeur. Its Great Lakes hold a lot of wonders, while the cave networks in the south will certainly marvel you. Every time you hike in the Midwest, you have to anticipate the coldness to kick in. Mountains and hills are always frequented by rain and snow. Therefore, the best time to hike remains to be in spring and summer. Interestingly enough, the elevation gains in the Midwest are quite minimal.
The American Southwest is a sight to behold. It boasts a plethora of natural wonders, ranging from the California Coast to the majestic American Desert. The sprawling ancient trees and the rolling hills also prove that the Southwest is heaven-on-earth for many outdoor enthusiasts. During the summer season, most trails and hiking destinations are dry and hot. In the winter months, highly elevated areas get some snow. Lower elevations don't receive that much snow. Again the ideal time to explore the region is during the spring and fall seasons.
Of course, the Pacific Northwest is definitely a place-to-go in the United States, especially for hikers. It is the haven of unadulterated rainforests and exotic coastlines, all worthy of being explored. Valleys and volcanic peaks are also among the unique natural formations that this particular region has to offer. During the late fall and early spring, rain riddles its elevated landscapes. On winder, strong gusts of winds manifest on the lowlands while snow accumulates at highly elevated areas. During summer and early fall, the weather can be ideal for all-day exploration.
What do you think you need to do in order to be able to hike in the rain? Most people would suggest you need to wear waterproof clothing, but that's not the only thing you should do. Here are some tips for how to hike in the rain:
It is essential that you provide protection to your gears if you are expecting precipitation along the way. Keep in mind that heavy downpours can defeat water-resistant fabrics. Additional defense is essential to keep your items dry.
Here are some items that can help you protect your outdoor equipment from precipitation
Meanwhile, here are some pieces of hiking/camping equipment that can help you overcome the ordeals of hiking in a wet or snowy season:
Don't wear cotton - Cotton absorbs a lot of water, so it is a no-no when hiking during heavy downpours. It can even absorb your sweat, too. If the temperature is low, cotton clothing can contribute to the development of hypothermia. Pick polyester, nylon, and wool as your primary clothing fabrics instead. They can effectively wick moisture.