Should I go on that mushroom hike in the woods? Should I take responsibility for leading others on that mushroom hike in the woods? These are difficult decisions, especially at the time of an eagerly-awaited outing. How much danger goes along with a certain level of wind? Web-based weather forecasts provide a reasonable estimate of the wind speeds that might be encountered. What is needed is related information about the risks of being in the woods with those winds.
An excellent resource (https://kindlingplayandtraining.co.uk/forest-school/wind-and-woods/ ) is provided by Kindling, an English company that provides resources for Forest Schools, and I draw on it heavily here, especially for their great diagram of the Beaufort Wind Scale for land.
The scale suggests that winds up to 20 mph are safe, and winds even up to 30 mph are usually safe. In addition to the wind speed and particularly the speed of gusts, however, a number of other factors should be considered.
What direction is the wind from? If it is an unusual direction for your area (east?), the trees may be less adapted to it and more prone to damage. If the wind is coming from, say, the north, and you are entering a large woods from the south, the force of the wind will be diminished by passing through and over the entire woods.
How old are the trees in the woods? Young trees are more resilient than older ones. Unfortunately, mature woods generally have more mushrooms.
How healthy are the woods? How much deadwood is there? Signs of decay signal greater danger. Unfortunately, these are exactly the conditions we look for to find mushrooms!
Be particularly aware of hanging dead branches (so-called “widow makers”). These can fall in much gentler winds than would be required to break them off in the first place – in fact they can fall with no help from wind at all.
Trees surrounding openings tend to grow into the opening, making them out of balance and vulnerable to falling into the opening, especially under wet conditions.
Some tree species are more prone to the complete breaking off of large branches in strong winds. Beeches and oaks seem to fall in this category. But that’s where the boletes are.
Guided by this information, the bottom line is that if you do not feel safe in the woods, don’t go there! But don’t automatically give up because the forecast is for 15-20 mph winds. Breezy, yes. Dangerous? Probably not very.