Roller Coaster No 1

After a flat calm blue sky Friday with sub-zero temps from the higher Glens upwards, a low pressure system is marching in, the wind’s already picking up at low levels in the Central Highlands, and blowing a hoolly further North and West. The low is off course complete with the obligatory Friday night warm sector! :(

While the forecast is not good for anyone wanting to get out on Saturday, depending what happens early next week, the situation weatherwise this weekend might longer term be in our favour, at least for the higher parts of CairnGorm which is where the most snow has stuck this week.

Overnight the FL looks to peak about 4500ft (but this could vary depending on exact track), so we’ll get a period of increasingly wet snow preceding a period of rain at most if not all levels before the precipitation gradually turns back to snow. The layer of wet snow, combined with rain will wet and soften the existing snow pack, consolidating it down a bit. A subsequent layer of  wet will be laid down as temps begin to fall and then this freezing up as temperatures gradually fall back during Saturday.

It’s these kind of cycles that are classic base building conditions, it all comes down to the thaw being sufficient to consolidate the snow pack, but short enough to not do too much damage. What comes through the next 24 hours will thus be in better shape to stand up to the coming weeks roller coaster, but we’ll just have to wait and see how much mild and probably more importantly how much rain we get next week.

Sunday looks set to have a Freezing Level between 1500 and 2000ft with a mix of sunny spells and snow showers, but overnight milder air will be sucked in as it gets pushed up and around the area of high pressure to our SW.  We then look set to enter a period of ‘roller coaster’ zonality, the track of the lows will be all important, a bit more to the South and we’ll get re-freezes between the less severe thaws, bit further North and we’ll end up with raging zonality sweeping band of rain after rain across with near double digit Munro level temperatures.

Should we get the latter, we can at least console ourselves that it’s better to have a bout of screaming zonality now than mid Feb.  One last thing, the models have been really struggling with fairly significant ensemble scatter only 2 to 3 days out on some runs, and some of those ensemble members were fairly tasty.  The best solution for Scottish Snowsports isn’t as one might expect long periods of blocked cold conditions, but the Holy Grail of cold Zonality. We managed to get to cool Zonality last winter at times, can we improve up on it?

Weather Station added at SSC Hut

With a cold spell looming and possibly the first meaningful snow fall further down the mountain the walk up to the Ski Club Hut was undertaken to install an Automatic Weather Station and return the Webcam set up to the hut.

Webcam PC and Comms set up

At this time the weather station is not permanently installed, the temperatuere/humidity sensors are, but the wind sensor is just temporarily mounted while the basic system is tested out.

Wet and blowy late afternoon, by dusk it was absolutely pouring, streams were raging and there was a full blown torrent running down the path from the hut. On the drive down the Allt Mor looked a bit scary!

Wet Webmaster

Webcams down this weekend

Just a brief note to let you know that the Winterhighland webcams in the Ski Club hut on CairnGorm will be down for the next few days as their currently in Inverness. With the forecast looking milder for the weekend again, I’ve taken the opportunity to get the system of the mountain to make some changes and test them out at base.

This will hopefully help contribute to a more stable camera system that will help maximise uptime during winter as well as enabling a longer term archive of images. We hope you’ll like the mod when the system is fully reinstalled in the SSC hut. The system was also rigged temporarily and we need to secure it for winter so the gubbins and leads don’t get in the way!

Webcams Update

Our White Lady camera appears to have developed a communication issue on Wednesday afternoon. An automatically scheduled reboot on Thursday afternoon has failed to clear the issue. A trip to reinstall the second balcony camera was planned for the weekend, but this will be brought forward to Friday afternoon. Hopefully we’ll get some interesting weather to watch over the weekend, but it looks awfully like the forecast Northerly is being shunted out into the north sea leaving us in somewhat milder air.

Someone left the Fridge open or was it the window?

Is that change that’s in the air or was it the first Icy blast of North wind that really bites tearing through Inverness shortly before the Guy Fawkes night fireworks?

We’re into November and after a very mild couple of days there was a distinct chill this evening, will we see early snow this week though? We might but one thing hasn’t changed, the good old GFS forecast model has been up to it’s old tricks again – promising tantalising ‘Day After Tomorrow’ style charts only to snatch them away a few runs later. That said, the CairnGorm Funicular is closed for annual maintenance and the Nevis Gondola will shortly join it. That should ensure a good dump!

During the course of the winter I’ll blog regularly right here…. a kind of twin track approach, one aspect being a personal mountain blog offering more in depth personal review of days in the hills than is possible in the Snow Reports and Pix from the Slopes. The second aspect is to blog about Winterhighland, to give you the reader an insight into what’s involved, what is happening and news and bits of info about the site and any problems that might crop up during the course of the season. Trust me, when the BBC puts a snow symbol on the map (can they still do that?) and it coincides with a stack of lovely snowy vistas in PixfromtheSlopes – Stuff – happens… Often starting with an email from support wondering what we’re trying to do the UnitedHosting network!

Finally while we await the first real and hopefully lasting falls of the white stuff, get yourself in the mood by looking through your photos. Over the next 3 weeks Winterhighland is running a Photo Competition to select the 12 pix for our first Winterhighland Calendar.

Check out the Photos so far: Photo Comp Entries.