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Rincons and Weather

Posted: Aug 30 2021 12:56 pm
by Watauga
I have a Labor Day trip planned for Saguaro East and am looking for some input with regard to the forecast. I know we're not all meteorologists, but I don't have any experience with the range and monsoon weather. I might as well ask the questions now rather than Friday night!

I'll be monitoring throughout the week, but current forecasts have a 30%-40% chance of Thunderstorms over Friday-Saturday. At what percentage would you consider bailing on Saguaro and finding an alternate trip? I don't mind eating the $16 for the permit if the potential of getting caught up there in a monsoon is too high.

Here's my current plan:
Sat - Tanque Verde Ridge trail to Juniper Basin
Sun - Juniper Basin to Grass Shack via Douglas Spring or a tour up around Helen's Dome and Manning Camp depending on how I'm feeling
Monday - Grass Shack back down to the Tanque Verde Ridge trailhead.

Here's the forecast link:
https://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.p ... S0zj1NlBaw

Thanks for the input!

Re: Rincons and Weather

Posted: Aug 30 2021 1:15 pm
by chumley
Watauga wrote: Here's the forecast link:
Your location is down in the lowlands west of the mountains. If you do a point forecast for Manning Camp the chances of rain there are much greater: [ point forecast ]

It's difficult to have a good handle on monsoon storm forecasts more than a day or two in advance. Typically the forecast that's 5-6 days out like this will be one that defaults to "climatological average" for the date. In general though if there's a monsoonal flow that is good for storm development, there is a higher likelihood of storms over the mountains than the lower elevations. But storms usually don't last all day, so it often comes down to your desire to risk an hour or two of rain (and lightning) in a day of otherwise fine weather.

I'll typically put together an alternate plan (usually in a different geographic area since the forecast will likely be similar in other places nearby) but won't make a final decision until the day before, or sometimes day of!

Re: Rincons and Weather

Posted: Aug 30 2021 1:24 pm
by xsproutx
I have a trip "planned" for the Gila wilderness this weekend and am running into the same thing. With the normal monsoonal weather + hurricane nora, my guess is it's going to be rainy but hard to tell until closer to the trip date. I'm looking at potential alternates in southern utah and will likely make the decision on Weds/Thurs. For me, I'm okay with some rain so I'm waiting to see if it's going to be monsoonal (generally over somewhat quick, just hunker down for a bit) or if the hurricane is going to bring more prolonged rain (I'm okay with some rain, but not all day rain for multiple days)

Re: Rincons and Weather

Posted: Aug 30 2021 4:19 pm
by nonot
Watauga wrote:current forecasts have a 30%-40% chance of Thunderstorms over Friday-Saturday. At what percentage would you consider bailing on Saguaro and finding an alternate trip
You may want to explain the reasons you would choose to bail. Pretty much every day of monsoon season is going to match that forecast...for just about everywhere in Arizona.

To me, monsoon weather itself doesn't bring bailing to mind. It tells me to be prepared to deal with rain (and possible lightning and possible hail/sleet) for maybe 1-2 hours each day, and maybe (a very small chance) that I will be setting up my camp for the night in the rain and going to sleep to the sound of rain on my tent. None of these are really reasons I would make the choice to bail. Lightning in the area is a good reason to take an extra long lunch/snack/nap break and stay out of the open until it passes, but I've never had to hunker down for more than about an hour, usually less. Ultimately, subtracting 2 hours from the day still leaves many hours left to travel and make miles before the sun sets.

The only reason I might consider to bail is if your trip route involves substantial travel, and camping, in areas prone to flash flooding. Most of the time you can simply plan to hike through flood risky areas in the morning, camp on the high ground, and if needed, wait out the flash flood, to address that type of concern. I'm not that familiar with the Rincons mountain range, but it seems most of your trails are high in the mountains, not walking in the canyons at the base of the mountains, so nothing immediate strikes me as bad in your plan.

Re: Rincons and Weather

Posted: Aug 30 2021 4:29 pm
by big_load
I bail out if considerable snowfall is expected, or multiple days of continuous rain. I've encountered both in Arizona, and in none of those instances was it forecast. The extent to which I account for weather in trip planning is checking historic temperature extremes and averages for the dates of interest.

Re: Rincons and Weather

Posted: Aug 30 2021 5:40 pm
by Watauga
@nonot

Those are great points.

I don't mind getting a little wet or having to hunker down for a short amount of time. I guess my big question is how gnarly can a monsoon get up around 6,000'-8,000'?

Re: Rincons and Weather

Posted: Aug 30 2021 6:20 pm
by ShatteredArm
@Watauga
I wouldn't be worried if you're at Grass Shack. Tanque Verde Ridge wouldn't be ideal in a lightning storm, although Juniper Basin is in a little valley, so the campground is really probably in the safest location on the entire ridge.

Re: Rincons and Weather

Posted: Aug 30 2021 7:24 pm
by The_Dude
I stayed in Grass Shack a few years back during a pretty solid couple hours of monsoon. If you have rain gear you should be ok. Juniper basin is also well situated, and the peak is a good 1000' above you there. You would just have to monitor exposure if you were planning Helen's dome.

Re: Rincons and Weather

Posted: Aug 31 2021 6:31 pm
by nonot
Watauga wrote: Aug 30 2021 5:40 pm @nonot

Those are great points.

I don't mind getting a little wet or having to hunker down for a short amount of time. I guess my big question is how gnarly can a monsoon get up around 6,000'-8,000'?
There is nothing particularly different from a monsoon at 6-8k elevation in Arizona than there is for experiencing a thunderstorm in other areas of the world.

Edit: Grammar

Re: Rincons and Weather

Posted: Aug 31 2021 7:15 pm
by ShatteredArm
@nonot
Elevation doesn't really matter, but whether you're on a prominent topographic feature like a ridge or peak certainly does.

Re: Rincons and Weather

Posted: Aug 31 2021 9:39 pm
by Watauga
Thanks for the input, everyone!

Re: Rincons and Weather

Posted: Aug 31 2021 9:45 pm
by xsproutx
@Watauga Curious as to what you’re doing? I’m pretty convinced up going to the gila this weekend. I actually haven’t made my way down to the rincons so always looking for more info/what people are doing especially since I’m thinking about down there in a couple of weeks
Let me know if you wanna tag along to the gila :D

Re: Rincons and Weather

Posted: Aug 31 2021 9:59 pm
by big_load
ShatteredArm wrote:Tanque Verde Ridge wouldn't be ideal in a lightning storm, although Juniper Basin is in a little valley, so the campground is really probably in the safest location on the entire ridge.
I agree, but It's not much of a valley and I don't think I'd feel safe there in an electrical storm. As I recall, parts of Manning Camp seem less risky, but that's a long haul if you're trying to reach it from the HQ in a day.