Yellowstone Weather
Yellowstone Weather & Hypothermia

Yellowstone Weather & Hypothermia

The weather in Yellowstone is anything but predictable. If you're hiking or backpacking you need to be prepared for anything, including snow during the summer. This may sound absurd but because of Yellowstone's elevation it's actually very common. Warm sunny days can become windy and cold within minutes and if you're unprepared and miles from the trailhead you run the risk of hypothermia, or at the very least, a long, cold wet hike back to the car. Visit our Yellowstone Weather page for statistics and information on seasonal temperatures.


Hypothermia is a condition where the body is no longer capable of maintaining its core temperature of 98.6º F (37º C) and is losing heat faster than it can generate. Heat loss can happen for a variety of reasons and some are more obvious than others. Falling into a stream or getting soaked by a cold rain will cause heat loss through conduction. This is where the colder object or surface like water quickly drains your body of heat. Wind-chill or exposure is often the most common form of heat loss and in conjunction with wet clothing can rapidly affect and reduce your body temperature. Keeping yourself warm and dry is crucial and requires the right clothing to protect against the elements. Understanding the symptoms and addressing them quickly will help you avert a potentially life threatening condition and/or situation.

Signs of Mild Hypothermia
• Motor skills are reduced
• Impaired judgement
• Apathy
• Person is confused

Signs of Moderate Hypothermia
• Uncontrollable shivering
• Speech becomes slurred
• Coordination is greatly reduced
• Poor decision making

Signs of Severe Hypothermia
• Victim no longer shivers
• Rigid muscles
• Respiration and pulse are very shallow
• Victim may or may not be conscious

Treatment for hypothermia depends on the severity. If clothes are cold and wet they must be replaced and the victim should be moved to a location that offers protection from the wind or rain. Generate additional heat and refuel the body with high-energy snacks and water if available. If exhaustion is not a factor keep moving to help increase the bodies temperature. If these methods are ineffective and the symptoms of hypothermia persist you may need to make a temporary camp or shelter and/or fire. Wrap the victim in a sleeping bag and any extra clothing and place heated water bottles or chemical heat packs near the groin, neck, feet and hands. Make sure these items do not come into direct contact with the victims skin. Place heated water bottles inside a bandana or sock to add a protective barrier between the skin in order to prevent possible burns. Make sure all water bottle caps are tightly secured to prevent any leaks from soaking any dry clothing or sleeping bags.

If you spend a great deal of time outdoors we highly recommend that you participate in a wilderness first aid course so your are prepared for emergenices that may arise while traveling in the backcountry. The Red Cross is often the best place to start and the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) offers a variety of classes and training for every level of outdoor enthusiast.

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