What To Do If You Get Caught In A Whiteout
For many parts of the world the winter has already begun or will be beginning soon. If you find yourself in a whiteout, there are steps you can take to prevent or at least reduce the negative effects that can come from such a situation.
Hazards That Can Occur In A Whiteout
Visibility can be reduced to a few feet during a snowstorm or blizzard. This can turn into a nightmare, even for an experienced hiker.
If there are no landmarks or if the landmarks are unable to be seen due to whiteout conditions, it makes it very difficult to ascertain exactly where you are.
You may not know exactly where you are or how far you have walked.
Blowing snow can make it impossible to get your bearings as you will no longer be able to even see the slope of the terrain you're walking on.
Weather Can Be Unpredictable
Of course, we know going hiking in blizzards or even when there is blowing snow can be treacherous.
Sometimes, you may be aware of snow in certain areas and be desirous of hiking in that snow. But, you must always be prepared for changes in the weather, just in case.
As we know, the weather can change on a dime. You could be walking along and everything is going well and then all of a sudden the weather might change unexpectedly.
First Steps To Take If You Notice A Change In The Weather Conditions
Should you notice the visibility becoming reduced, if you know where you are you can navigate to a safer area.
If you are not sure where you are, having a map will be extremely helpful. Not only will it help you determine where you are, but it may be able to show you some options of where you can go.
Try to find an area with trees that you can navigate to. The trees will give you some cover from the snowstorm.
Ultimately, you want to come up with a plan to get to a lower elevation.
You can create waypoints on your GPS if you have one with you. You can then use these waypoints to navigate to a safer area.
You may find that it's not snowing just a few hundred feet below you.
Blowing snow can make it impossible to know where there are ponds, iced-over creeks or cliffs, proceed with extreme caution!
What You Can Do If You Do Not Have A Way To Locate Safer Ground
If you are unable to navigate by any means, stay put! We can’t emphasize this enough.
When we can’t see landmarks, we tend to walk in circles. If you don’t have any navigational devices with you, ie: map, GPS, compass, etc, walking around trying to figure out exactly where you are or where you can go to get to safer ground, you will generally end up more lost than you originally were from the whiteout.
At some point, you may need to create shelter for yourself. You should put on all extra layers of clothing and dig a hole in the snow.
When the sun comes up or when the weather subsides, you may then be able to try again to come up with a plan to navigate to a safer area.
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