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Essential Camping Checklist

Camping Checklist: What You Need to Know About Weather
OK, this is pretty funny, but in general, flash floods are no joke.
OK, this is pretty funny, but in general, flash floods are no joke.

The whole point of going camping is to get closer to nature and enjoy the great outdoors. But sometimes, nature can be fickle. Here are a few types of weather to watch out for while camping:


Thirty-six people died in avalanches in the U.S. over the 2009-2010 winter [source: Forest Service]. Here are a few red flags for avalanche risk:

  • high winds or recent heavy snowfall
  • recent avalanche activity
  • cracks in the snow surface
  • rising temperatures

Flash Floods

Flash floods strike without warning and can be deadly. Here are some things you should know:

  • Don't camp in dry river beds.
  • A flash flood watch means that flash flooding is possible; a warning signals that flooding is imminent.
  • Don't try to outrun a flash flood in your car. Instead, climb to higher ground.


Did you know that nearby forest fires can generate enough dust to create a static charge and cause lightning? Here are some other lightning basics:

  • Lightning strikes whatever is tallest.
  • Drop any metal objects you're carrying, including backpacks with metal frames.
  • Get off bicycles and motorbikes.
  • Avoid lakes and rivers.


  • It is not safe to be outside during a tornado.
  • If a tornado watch is issued in your campground, take shelter inside a sturdy building.
  • If this is not possible, find a ditch or gully and lie down.
  • Do not attempt to outrun a tornado in your vehicle.

There are other things that are OK to outrun on a camping trip, however. From kites to bikes, find our list of not-so-essential (but fun!) stuff to pack next.