Dec 19, 2015 at 9:03 pm #3371359
Is there a measurement for rating mountain storms similar to rating whitewater levels ?
The reason i ask is i am trying to figure out what kind of storm level various types of shelters have been designed for .Dec 20, 2015 at 2:38 pm #3371453
Not any official system as you describe, but wind speed is a good substitute.
Turbulance is also a very significant factor, but there is no measure for that.
cheersDec 20, 2015 at 2:48 pm #3371455
It’s only drizzling
Yes, it’s raining
Man, it’s really coming down
I’m not going out in that
You’re gonna die out thereDec 20, 2015 at 9:44 pm #3371509
Well KT i’m looking for something between your level 4 and 5 above treeline and 50 + mile per hour winds.Oh and under 3 pounds .I have been looking at the usual 4 season tents ( a little heavy)but i am intrigued by the mids with a bivy as well.Just not sure i can trust anything other than a free standing 4 season tent.This is for solo use.Dec 20, 2015 at 10:04 pm #3371511
Mids all the way for me.Dec 20, 2015 at 10:56 pm #3371517Ryan JordanAdmin
@ryanLocale: Central Rockies
Having spent many nights in a mid in the type of winds you are talking about is a pretty Insecure thing. Occasionally it’s OK but 50 mph is seriously pushing the limits of ultralight shelters.
Sounds like the type of weather for a well-pitched 3-pole tunnel tent.Dec 21, 2015 at 1:29 am #3371525Franco DarioliBPL Member
@francoLocale: Gauche, CU.
Just as a suggestion, when reading about “experienced” wind speeds , in most cases it has to do with how we interpret wind speed not the real (measured on the spot, not 30 miles away…) wind speed.
Most people tend to grossly over-estimate the wind speed they have experienced.Dec 21, 2015 at 7:57 am #3371538Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
do tent manufacturers specify a maximum wind speed?
and is there any consistency between manufacturers?
I don’t think so
yeah, mid blows around a lot above 30 MPH or whatever, maybe a tunnel tent like Roger’s would be betterDec 21, 2015 at 8:45 am #3371549
We have many open bald mountaintops in TN and NC and Virginia which can get walloped with high winds and become Tent Testing Facilities at the whim of Miss Nature.
There are Six Categories of Rain and the Six Defcon Levels of Cold, but mountain winds have no such levels, except those based on Locomotive Sound and the degree of sphincter-tightening such winds produce. It’s therefore a personal scale or a scale based on Two Criteria: Is the tent still up or has it shredded and collapsed?
If you’re brave enough to set up in such a wind atop an exposed ridge or bald, and you have the proper shelter to handle the beast, what’s the problem?
The problem usually arises in this scenario: You set up at 6,000 feet in an open meadow with calm conditions at 20F. No problem. No point in practicing “better site selection.” Then at 2am the sky turns mean and nasty with 60mph gusts in a whiteout blizzard. You hope your tool for yesterday becomes a new tool for the morning as the job just changed.
In January 2006 I was atop a 5,300 bald in NC in my Hilleberg Nammatj 3 tent and got walloped with a tremendous all night banshee windstorm hitting from all directions. I placed rocks on the tent pegs cuz they kept pulling out of the ground. One tent pole was bent.
Another time I was caught in a Hilleberg Staika during a butt cold sleet storm in February 2007 and got walloped by another beautiful glance from Miss Nature.
In May 2009 I was camping on another open bald and had a friend’s tent get walloped by a surprise windstorm.
One of my worst windstorms was on Haw Knob in NC at 5,500 feet whereby my Staika tent got layed out flatter than normal despite the 14 stakes and 6 guyline pegs.
As a footnote, my backpacking buddy Hoppin John was on top of Bob Mt in NC with his Allak tent and got hit with a tremendous hellstorm which actually ripped off the guyline tabs from this tent and he had to do a A.M. bail off the mountain. A week later I went up and found several pieces of his gear strewn across the mountainside.Dec 21, 2015 at 9:41 am #3371564
Site selection. My Unna didn’t budge in 60 mph winds. So yes if you are willing to take a tank out with you and pitch in a suboptimal site then some super robust portable house would be better than a mid.
Trailstar.Dec 21, 2015 at 2:19 pm #3371605
I like Ken’s scale. My variation:
0: Still air: lots of condensation inside the tent
1: Mild breeze: that should keep the inside of the tent dry overnight
2: Windy: close the windward door down a bit for comfort
3: Blowing pretty hard: shut the windward door completely
4: Storm: storm guys out, maybe some rocks around the edge of the tent
5: Bad storm: storm guys, rock wall at the windward edge, rocks on the stakes, keep spare gear packed up inside
6: Really, really bad storm: you don’t try standing up, just crawl around when pulling the tent down
As several have mentioned, tunnels are good for all of these.
CheersDec 21, 2015 at 3:52 pm #3371620
Roger: That’s a good list and I need to sit down sometime and give it more thought. I think the Inuit have about 50 words just for Wind. I only have about 10 and most of those are obscene.
But I’ve spent enough time on ridgetops in windstorms to understand some of their cycles. I equate a windstorm to either ocean waves coming in and crashing against the shore (the shore being your tent), or a locomotive, or a screaming F-4 Phantom fighter jet passing overhead in a microburst.
So for a backpacker I break windstorms into some simple categories:
** Gusts and Lulls.
** Storm Climax.
Every windstorm seems to have a beginning, a middle, a climax (hold on!!), and an ending. Within this are your Gusts (locomotives) and your Lulls (what happened?). Often you can hear a terrible sound coming towards you and your camp—hence the F-4 appellation—and you dread the result because it sounds much worse than the others.
Then there’s the CLIMAX GUST which every windstorm seems to have. It will be off the scale and a final insult—a big slap in the face at 70mph during a regular 40mph storm. Where does it comes from? Why does it sound so bad? And yes, like in a movie the climax-gust means the back of the storm has been broken and the storm prepares for its slow end.
And finally, there are the hellstorms which swirl in every direction and slap you silly. The banshee jumps on your tent and slams the roof down onto your head and shoulders and with this comes That Damn Sound of another terrible gust. I think the Inuit say that after three days in a windstorm you will go crazy.
We don’t get Inuit winds here in North Carolina and on our ridgetops but we do get some real contenders. And I know for a fact that after 3 days in a mountaintop wind I’ve about had enough.Dec 21, 2015 at 4:00 pm #3371622
Oh, and don’t let anyone tell you that our North Carolina winds are nonciphers or nonstarters or don’t count. We recently had a windstorm on Grandfather Mountain (and very close to where I routinely winter camp) clocked at over 200mph.Dec 21, 2015 at 5:32 pm #3371656
Great posts fellas.Currently using my ID wedge bivy for quick trips.I suspect it is bombproof .But for longer trips with the possibility of weathering multiday storms i have been looking for something i can sit up in.Just trying to understand the stormworthiness of the mids.I trip in the Northern rockies for two weeks a year and the weather is unpredictable but the weight saving game is always a temptation.This year i was considering just using my ID Wedge with a siltarp 2 as a canopy but those mids sure look simple.
Prefer side entry which is why i have not considered a tunnel and along with the Akto not completely freestanding.The Soulo ,Unna and possibly Tarptent scarp with extra poles i’m thinking the soulo may be the most stormworthy.Dec 21, 2015 at 6:52 pm #3371673
Different places, different weather. One of our Main Range storms can last for 24 – 48 hours at a constant intensity. Gusts, Lulls and Climaxes need not apply.
CheersDec 21, 2015 at 6:55 pm #3371674
I am afraid none of the tents you mentioned would fit in my classification of being seriously storm-worthy. The lengths of the poles and the distances between the pole are all much too big.
CheersDec 23, 2015 at 3:52 pm #3372091AnonymousInactive
I had pretty good luck last time I called my tent manufacturer (Big Agnes). and asked them about winds limits on my model. The guy in their repair shop is pretty geeky about fabric and pole technology. He also gets to see where the tents fail when he’s patching them up…
I suspect the same holds true of the other mid sized suppliers.Dec 23, 2015 at 9:48 pm #3372134
Craig—So enough teasing, what the heck did the Big Agnes expert have to say about the wind limits on your model???????
Of course, no indoor expert’s counsel will duplicate a real storm in whatever tent we choose to use.
But as a footnote, a buddy and I were on a high open bald hellstorm in December 2012 and he was a couple hundred feet away in his Big Agnes tent—check out his report—
His tent actually survived the maelstrom so that says something about Big Agnes.
Patman with his Big Agnes preparing for a 10F night.May 5, 2017 at 10:21 pm #3466393Edward John MBPL Member
Don’t forget windshear and microbursts.
Like Roger I camp in an area where really bad weather can last a week but unlike the Main Range there are usually enough sheltered or semi sheltered spots to reduce the wind to somewhat less than Storm Force. But I usually lose at least one cheap base camp tent a season.
it’s why my back-up tent is a 4 pole hybrid tunnel
LW and UL tents simply will not survive where I ski and camp when it gets bad and it always get bad if you are up there for long enough.
I’m a reasonably big bloke and I have been picked up and blown metres by wind gusts at times, as Roger said you don’t stand up when packing the gear away
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