Generally speaking, cavers in the UK understand the benefits of knowing how caves respond to rainfall (unless your caving takes place solely in Goatchurch). With the advent of very accurate and up to date forecasts online, it is pretty easy to avoid the major weather events that, on their own, can spoil your day; we just need to be alert to key phrases such as ‘thunderstorms’, ‘heavy showers’ or ‘prolonged rainfall’. Not very hard to manage!
However, the other side of the equation is what the weather has already done in our chosen caving area. Saturated ground or snow cover can all make for nasty surprises if you add even a small amount of rain from a warm or occluded weather front. However, this information can be harder to get. For sure, most cavers have the use of their senses; if you sink knee-deep in bog on the way to Ireby Fell, or flounder through snow on the way to P8, you’ll be aware of the potential hazards. To get that information at the planning stage, before you pack the ropes and get an early night for the trials of the day ahead, is a bit harder.
This is where the Cave Diving Group can help. Visit the website at www.cavedivinggroup.org.uk and follow the links to VIS-BOT. Here you will find rainfall graphs for various Dales and Peak locations, plus links to various weather stations on Mendip and other resources. Cave divers will also sometimes post general info on cave conditions where they have been active. Time spent on reconnaissance is seldom wasted, and online reconnaissance is the least amount of effort, as long as you trust the resources! In the case of Vis-Bot, if there is any information given, it is generally spot-on; and if you look up the locations of the various reports you can even get a sense of what the prevailing weather was over the last couple of days eg where the rain was coming from and how heavily it fell on different aspects of slope. All pretty good life-maintaining info.
So raise a toast to the volunteers who help provide this service!