Four Seasons In A Day, Everyday
Four Seasons In A Day, Everyday, Warns Mountain Safety Council Ahead Of Easter
Often seen as the last long-weekend opportunity to explore the outdoors before winter weather sets in, Easter is a key focus for the Mountain Safety Council. Campers, day walkers, hunters and backcountry trampers are urged to very carefully check the weather forecast prior to going out this long weekend.
Mountain Safety Council (MSC) chief executive Mike Daisley said MSC’s insights contain some concerning incident statistics for the long weekend.
“There is an average of 41 injuries and 4.5 people involved in a search and rescue per day! Easter is the busiest holiday for search and rescue all year,” said Daisley.
“Make sure you’ve prepared for an ‘unexpected night out’ because they can and do happen. If you’re unable to raise the alert, and you’ve not told a trusted contact your plans then you may need to stay put and wait it out,” said Daisley.
“If you’ve followed the outdoor safety code you’ll be in a better position to survive the night if something does happen, but in most cases ‘unexpected nights out’ are completely avoidable,” he concluded.
With respect to Tramping over Easter, there is an average of 26 injuries and 2 people involved in a search and rescue. This is over three times the average for injuries, and double the average for searches. 51% of Tramping injuries and 49% of searches occur in the first four months of the year. Daisley is keen to remind anyone adventuring into the outdoors this weekend to prepare for significant changes in the weather.
“Easter is best thought of as 'four seasons in a day, every day.' Plan accordingly,” said Daisley.
“New Zealand is a country that sees big changes in weather conditions, and some can be very localised,” said Daisley.
MetService communications meteorologist Lisa Murray reiterated the advice to check the correct forecast for your region.
“The weather is going to be one of the key factors affecting your outdoor experience, so getting a good understanding of the conditions is really important. Always check the latest forecast before you go. MetService have mountain forecast for twelve of our most used National Park regions, regional forecasts, radar and spot forecast information available 24/7.”
“It’s also important to check for any Severe Weather Warnings and Watches. These give valuable information about hazardous weather such as the intensity and timing of severe wind, heavy rain or heavy snow.”
Murray said that elevation change needs to be considered in the planning phase of your trip along with wind chill.
“As you change elevation from sea level to the mountains the weather and temperature can change dramatically and this will potentially have an impact on your trip. Using the Tongariro Alpine Crossing (TAC) as an example, the difference in elevation between Taupo and the summit of the track is around 1500 metres. Because of atmospheric lapse rate (as you climb higher the temperatures get colder), the ambient temperature will be about 10°C colder at the summit than at Taupo.”
“Don’t forget that you need to factor in Wind Chill as well as cooler temperatures with altitude. A rough guide to use is 2°C for every 10 km/h of wind.”
“Wrapping this all together, if it’s 24°C in Taupo and you get to the summit of the TAC in a 50 km/h wind, you’ll need to have the equipment to deal with a temperature that feels like 4°C.”
Daisley said that the Outdoor Safety Code — a five step planning tool available on the MSC website — is the key to being correctly prepared for all conditions.
“We urge all those going for a day walk to make themselves familiar with the outdoor safety code, and importantly, tell someone your plans so you can be more easily found if the unforeseen happens,” said Daisley.
“If you do get lost, injured or caught out for whatever reason you’re chances of survival are dramatically increased if you’ve followed the outdoor safety code,” he concluded.
For more information about the outdoor safety code and resources to help you stay safe this Easter head to www.mountainsafety.org.nz