This isn't the sort of thing I usually write and please be assured that I'm not just going "mi mi mi", here, but I find I must put up a bit of a PSA about Arco, Italy: BEWARE the Summer (July) Thunderstorms!
I know Arco is a well known and popular climbing, biking, Gelato-eating, pizza-scoffing, wine-quaffing and Klettersteig destination and one of the pleasures of Arco is staying in one of the climber, biker and other sports-person populated camp sites.
I was there, last wednesday, and, in the evening, a little bit of a lightning show kicked off. Then, a few fat drops of warm rain fell and I thought, oh, that's put paid to sitting outside for a bit -- it will surely pour for a while and blow over -- as is usually the case.
Next thing, without warning, came a two-minute gust of wind that I learned, the next day, was measured at 89kts.
No kidding! Tables, campervan windows, gear, helmets, bins and whole, zipped closed tents were in the air! On my part, I lost a 165 litre Windsurf (foil) board to it. (Cracked in two.)
I asked the staff whether there was some sort of storm warning or something that I might have seen, had I known to look. They said, no, there wasn't, but it was sometimes something that happened in Summer in Arco, just beware of it and never trust a thunderstorm to just blow over with a bit of rain.
So there you have it: if you go camping and climbing in the Dolomites and stay in Arco, beware the f*cking storms!
Driving through the Dolomites a couple of years ago the forest for several kilometres was laid flat on the hillsides in great swirls. A storm, the campsite lady told me.
That was a hurricane or as they are called around those parts, a Medicane. They had 120km hour winds and it destroyed millions of acres of woodland. I went to help just after the storm - it was a total mess. In the village where my house is, they had not had telecommunications for 3 days after the storm, power was out for around a month and water had to be shipped in or collected from the few remaining freshwater springs for months while the laid a new pipe down the valley. It all but destroyed the ice climbing gorge access which was a road up the gorge and this still has not been fixed. The forests in the valley have barely been touched in terms of clearing the mess caused as the slopes are extremely steep and difficult to access. Meanwhile the Olympics have been awarded to Cortina, and new roads and ski slopes are being built apace whilst the Veneto government can't be bothered to clear up what really needs to be done - it's a travesty...
Your first time there then?
In season, yes. I've actually been there several times, before, but always April - May or September - October, never July.
> ... the Olympics ... it's a travesty...
Is it ever not?
Almost everyone who has climbed or walked in the Dolomites in summer has a thunderstorm story. A friend and I descended the Sass di Stria in under a third of the guidebook time thanks to a thunderstorm that broke with only c.10 mins of obvious warning just as we reached the top.
> On my part, I lost a 165 litre Windsurf (foil) board to it. (Cracked in two.)
Could've been worse, you could've been out on it at the time!
> In season, yes. I've actually been there several times, before, but always April - May or September - October, never July.
All summer they are common as hell, don't look at the weather radar right now unless you want to see the supercell wandering past! Correction, looks like it's splitting and going to hammer Arco at about 3.15 so about time to get off the hill!
> Almost everyone who has climbed or walked in the Dolomites in summer has a thunderstorm story. A friend and I descended the Sass di Stria in under a third of the guidebook time thanks to a thunderstorm that broke with only c.10 mins of obvious warning just as we reached the top.
Every pilot who flies in the Alps has a gust front story, preferably one where the protagonist is another pilot ...
Unfortunately it seems quite hard to find a layman-on-the-ground internet reference which is both accurate and informative, as they tend to focus either on meteorology or issues for commercial aeroplane pilots and ATC.
Word is that if the thunderstorm is in the next valley, you're probably ok. What could possibly go wrong ...
Just as a matter of interest -- and for future reference -- which particular weather radar do you favour for that bit of Europe? (Sudtirol / Dolomites / Southern Alps / Northern Italy / Lago di Garda)?
I use wetteronline which is centred on Germany but covers down to the Adriatic or weather.com which covers the whole world.
I see what's happening to the south because whatever happens on the south side of the Alps gets to me in Munich two hours later, the cell that went over Arco at 3 o'clock hit me at 5 and todays is coming at 3 or 4 here.
Gives you a reasonably accurate forecast by mountain range, rather than just region.
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