Weather on the Mountain

On the mountain, nothing is talked about more than the weather. After a warm hello from natives and long term residence, the next breath is almost always about how cold, how wet or how hot “it’s been lately.” The real truth for many mountaineers and mountaineer want-a-bee’s is simply, any day on the mountain is better than any day off the mountain. The trick to either loving mountain weather or suffering through it is to be prepared for sudden, unpredictable changes.

Geologically speaking the mountains complicate more predictable off-mountain weather. Generally originating from the west and northwest in the winter, occasional blasts of Canadian Arctic air can bring with it snow, freezing temperatures and high winds. Bermuda highs, typical of our summer weather patterns, gather warm moist air from the Gulf of Mexico as it moves in a counter clockwise fashion around a center often located, not surprisingly, over Bermuda. When the humid Gulf air slides up the mountain slopes and hits the cooler, drier, high altitude temperatures, the warm moisture condenses into rain. Hence our frequent “widely scattered afternoon and evening thunder showers”. Both summer and winter temperatures often vary as much as 20° or more below those just 25 miles down the mountain.

Weather Tips

For horse sport fanciers, weather is a vital concern. Not just for the welfare of horses, but also weather often helps define how much enjoyment we get from a trail ride, a workout in the ring, or a day of showing. Here are some tips to help you get the most from your time on horseback in our mountains.

  1. Check current weather reports often using links offered on this page. Conditions can change quickly in the mountains.
  2. Dress in layers so that you can add or subtract as the air and your body temperature changes.
  3. Always bring a jacket or sweater no matter how warm you think it will be.
  4. Always bring rain gear. It’s easier to assume it will rain at some point during your stay.
  5. During warmer months, a morning trail ride is a better bet to avoid those pesky “widely scattered afternoon and evening showers.”
  6. And of course a water proof helmet or water proof helmet cover is a good idea for more reasons than one.

If you show horses, you are accustomed to changes in the weather and need not be reminded to bring rain gear. At Blowing Rock we will continue the show schedule during light showers but initiate a hold if there is the slightest hint of a safety issue for horses or riders. We will hold for torrential downpours which are typically brief during our show dates. Our well drained ring is specially prepared to facilitate rain runoff, and we stop showing immediately at any sign of lightning.

Riders Almanac

  • January/February/March—Expect cold winter temperatures and conditions
  • April/May/June—Expect a cold day or two in April, cool days and nights in May with daytime temperatures increasing into June.
  • July/August/September—Comfortable mornings, warmer with occasional hot afternoons and frequent late afternoon and evening showers
  • October/November/December—September slides into October almost unnoticed with increasing cooler temperatures headed toward October’s drier peak leaf season. October is noted for warm days and cool nights. Don’t be surprised at the light October breezes. Perfect riding weather. Cooler temps in November and snow making on the slopes warn of the winter just ahead. You can count on full blown winter weather by December.

Weather is not manageable, fully predictable, nor is it to be feared. Just be prepared and you will have a safe, secure and fun filled riding experience in the NC Highlands.

Travel safe, ride safe.