The August that Felt Like September and Weather Channel Planning Tools


spring valley weatherJoe and Sandy were our Camp Host predecessors and the poor souls really missed out by leaving here early!  Ever since they left in the heat and with the skeeters eating them alive the weather has been very much different.  So much so that people are talking like it’s SEPTEMBER!

Which brings me to a tool we have been using to make travel plans and I don’t know if you use it too. It’s not a one-click find — you have to look around for it, but I love it.

Everyone knows about The Weather Channel website:  http://www.weather.com.

I’m not sure how many people know about the basic climate information they offer — particularly suited to deciding where we want to be during any month of the year. I have a stack of screen captures of just this graphic filed away on my ‘puter for those times when we are trying to figure out whether New Orleans at this time of year is a winner, or Fairbanks AK at some other time of the year would be better.  My travel plans live by these little graphs.  They aren’t perfect but they sure do make my planning easier.

find monthly
Click on MONTHLY

Once you get to the page for whichever locale you are interested in you can get all sorts of info about the current weather.  That’s not what I want.

It’s an easy click to  the Monthly page.  And that page has a lot of interesting information about highs and lows and precipitation THAT month.  But what I want is essentially CLIMATE information rather than WEATHER information.  I want to know the AVERAGES so that’s where I go next.

Hidden at the bottom of the daily chart are links to various pages, including one for AVERAGES.  It’s a small text link and easy to miss, but click on it!

find averages
Click on AVERAGES

It’s here that I find my Holy Grail of Route Planning.

Peg and I kind of like the temps were in right now:  average highs in the 70’s, average lows in the 50’s.  For us that’s pretty comfortable right now.  We would like to acclimate to warmer temps but we aren’t there — YET.

The reason I have a pile of these little graphic files is that when we add a location to our bucket list of places to go and things to do I also add one of these graphics and WHEN we go there will depend on what the temps are like during that timeframe.

I don’t care about low season or high season.  In a sense I don’t even care whether so-called ‘attractions’ are open or closed — most of the time we aren’t visiting that location because of a man made attraction that has to be open for us to enjoy our visit.  We tend to like the more wild space and nature is pretty much nature whenever you see her.  It’s just that sometimes she’s a little more fierce than other times.

What I Don’t Do…

Cluttered Graph
I find that adding record highs and lows to the chart just clutters things up too much. I don’t use them.

I believe in travel planning you can make yourself sick worrying about all sorts of details that will never occur — and if they do occur you could never have predicted them anyway.

To illustrate my point let me pull up a different graph for the same locale — Spring Valley — right where we are now. The difference between the first chart and the second chart is that this large one has a couple extra boxes ticked.  Note that RECORD HIGH and RECORD LOW are checked off.

I suppose you could say that this graph gives you a lot more information, and it does. But not really useful information.  You can’t predict highs or lows.  They happen once a century, or once every 50 years and all they do is clutter up your screen with extraneous information.

That might be a sign of the times — that clutter up our lives with stuff we don’t need to know — but it’s not helpful for route planning. Not at all!

With the first graph I can almost tell at a glance whether I want to be there.  The TWO BLUE LINES on this second chart have been drawn to illustrate my point.  I don’t care what the dark blue line on the bottom is doing.  I don’t care what the top red line is doing.  I want the yellow and blue-green lines to fall between those horizontal lines when I’m there.  I’d like the precipitation chart on the bottom to be below 3″ for that month but I’m flexible there.  As long as the average temps stay in that +/- 80 high and +/- 45 low range I’m pretty much good to go! 

Let me know if you use these graphs. I’d be interested to know what tricks or tools YOU use to make your travel plans.

Our movements (or some may our lack of movements) will most likely keep us in areas where there is more Nature and fewer people — that’s just who we are. We are too new at this to know if we’ll spend the majority or minority of our time volunteering, or touring, or sitting on our duff reading a book. All we’re doing is living in the best and most interesting way we can find.

So, there you have it — it’s cool here, even in the middle of August when it’s supposed to be hot. — or when people want to THINK it’s supposed to be hot.  And that is my takeaway about using graphs to plan your travels.  We all have our perceptions of what the weather is supposed to be like in certain places and sometimes we are right.

But sometimes we are wrong. You see, no matter that people are saying that the weather here is like SEPTEMBER, the fact is we are right on our monthly averages this month.  THIS is what Highland Ridge / Spring Valley are supposed to be like in August.  This is why we planned on being within 100 miles of there.  Our plans can’t account for the exceptional summer like last year’s drought — but we’re going to be on the money most of the time — no matter what people tell us about their perceptions of a given month.

That’s if for me for today.

Thanks for stopping by and I’ll talk with you tomorrow

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6 Comments

  1. I truly find it interesting how differently we all approach these things. Me – I don’t give a second thought to weather, in fact I secretly wish for nasty weather as it electrifies me – go figure.( When we retire our wish is to be vagabond storm chasers) While in Havana I was literally dragged kicking and screaming from the roof of our hotel as a tropical storm unleashed tornadoes and lightning struck all around. A bolt of lightning hit the building next door and my entire body tingled for an hour – it was amazing. 🙂

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    1. As my daughter commented after you, the fact that we use climate data to plan our trips doesn’t mean we don’t find extremes. Last year we did two trips with her and both of them experienced extremes for the area during our visit. SC and MO.

      A significant part of our motivation in RV’ing is an early in life BAD frostbite which makes cold weather really hard on me. As a result I am not quite ‘allergic’ to cold but I sure do what I can to avoid it.

      Things like storms … well … you may be more motivated by adrenalin than I. 🙂 I have enjoyed storms, but never wanted to chase them. I think over the last 10 years my longing for thrills has diminished and my yearning for appreciation has grown. I never sat still; never sat to just enjoy — not while I was working. As with most self-employed people I was Type A and if I didn’t have a deadline I made a deadline — I needed the PUSH to get me through my average day. Now I don’t have to produce and my urge to those extremes of behavior has just dropped off. I’m enjoying life in a way I never did before — in fact, in a way I never thought I’d want to enjoy it.

      Thanks for stopping by! Some day we’ll have to visit Vancouver and enjoy a cuppa together.

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  2. You know, I think some of this may be odds talking too. The MORE you travel (being Fulltime that puts you up there!) then the MORE likely you may be able to experience the differences/extreemes in climate behavior.
    For example, last year you traveled about 50% of the year. When we went to St Louis on Memorial Day we got record high heat in the mid 90’s!.
    When we traveled to SC in October (and planned on 80’s) we couldn’t predict a hurricane the week before, and record COLD – 60’s weather during our stay.
    The rest of your travle year last summer was just as “average” as it could be be for the drought our area had.
    Either way, #1 priority is safety, #2 is doing and BEING where you want to be and enjoying it (with or without a coat and earmuffs!) 🙂

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  3. Hi Peter,
    Just wanted to let you know that I thought this info was really important so I put a link back to this post on our ‘Gooood Info’ page! Thank you so much for the time and effort you put into this!
    k-

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    1. K,

      Glad you benefitted from the info. I thought it was worthwhile sharing. We all have criteria to use when deciding WHERE to go, but I’m not sure if we all also have criteria on WHEN to go. This is working for us — not only now as full timers, but also when we were working and ‘vacation’ time was limited. Why spend it where you aren’t going to be comfortable.

      Cheers,
      P

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