Not a 0mph day

Unfortunately some sharp wet snow showers in high winds followed by a sudden drop in temperature late on Wednesday evening saw to the anemometer at the Ski Club Hut, which has remained a solid lump of ice since.

If wind direction is changing and the wind speed is reported as zero it’s a good chance that the wind sensor has succumbed to icing.¬† Drier snow and or cold temps don’t cause problems, its when we go from marginal snow to below freezing that does it.

New Low Level Webcams

Wednesday afternoon ahead of the approaching winter storms we’re expecting over the coming few days we’ve installed a couple of low level webcams in Mountain Spirit (Backcountry Snowsports Shop) located towards the South end of Aviemore on Grampian Road.

This is a fairly temporary set up at present to assess the value of low level cameras to compliment the on mountain cameras. One camera is providing a widescreen format panorama of the distant Cairngorms and we hope will be useful for assessing snow level and cloud base / visibility.

A second camera provides a low level view of the Southern end of Grampian Road in Aviemore. Situated at 690feet, this will be useful for gauging lower level snow falls and thus road conditions in spells of wintry weather as well as seeing what the weathers doing all the time. Unlike the other cameras this camera updates all night and the road provides an excellent indication of whether it’s dry or wet!

Please remember we’re just testing this out, we’re unsure of how useful these cameras will be a distance from the mountain, but the Aviemore view in itself should be useful.

Unfortunately due to deteriorating weather conditions it was decided to abort an attempt to get the third camera working at the Ski Club Hut. With the Funicular closed due to wind, deteriorating overhead and expected ice underfoot it wasn’t looking like a good move to carry computer gear (including my laptop!) up the Home Road.Aviemore at Night from Mountain Spirit

Weather Station Feed Fixed

Initial fears that the AWS at the SSC Hut had been damaged by the wind (it was recording wind speeds of 88mph shortly before loss of data – and the wind had been gusting to 165mph at the Summit) proved unfounded and the data feed restored shortly after 4pm on Saturday.

The AWS sensors are wired together but not currently hard-wired to the console/computer and thus the sensors are running on battery power. It looks as if the wild weather was shaking the temperature sensor so much that the batteries were failing to make contact all the time and after a certain number of drop outs the Console gives up attempts to communicate to preserve it’s own batteries.

Hard wiring the set-up will give more frequent wind measurements (thus we expect more accurate as the AWS stands a better chance of recording higher gusts) but as the system was primarily installed for temperature and humidity data an element of ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ makes me wary of changing the set-up at this stage.

Checking out the Wind Sensor (captured by webcam).

Perfect Dusk… the calm before the storm?

The last of the snow clouds cleared to leave a perfect but fading blue sky above CairnGorm Mountain at dusk. Flat calm, still and frosty, and the forecasts promise Saturday will dawn just as Friday ended.

A couple of photos for now, a full report and more photos in Pix from the Slopes later.
View up Coire Na Ciste

Looking up Coire Na Ciste and over under the Chair to the Aonach Bowl and Aonach Ridge beyond. Skiable to the Ciste Carpark.

Night Fall on CairnGorm Mountain.

The webcams in the SSC hut are updating at five minute intervals to try and improve reliability while it’s relying on very limited bandwidth. They have been set to start updates before 7am, so you can see how it’s shaping up from as soon as there is enough light.

End of the Road for Thursday

Unexpected heavy snow showers on Thursday afternoon saw the Glenmore Gates get closed for the remainder of the afternoon as the road became increasingly icy, rather than from amount of snow. The showers did however put down another 2 or 3 inches higher up.

It had been hoped to visit the Webcam Installation in the Ski Club Hut to check up on it and try to clear the windows. There is an ongoing data communication issue since the storm, due to a data service problem with the local mast after Wednesdays Storm.

Glenmore Gates Closed Thursday Afternoon

Taking a short walk along the shore  of Loch Morlich around dusk alone apart from a few ducks, the mist suddenly cleared revealing a pinkish sunset amongst the snow clouds, and brief glimpse of Coire Cas (See Pix from the Slopes).
Loch Morlich at Dusk

Friday promises more settled weather ahead of a great Saturday, but stormy Sunday. An attempt to de-ice the window of the SSC hut will be made, but if it’s not possible a few sunny spells should help as it’s facing South.

At the moment the mist started to clear in Coire Cas, I was very impressed with the width of cover on the Cas… only as the mist cleared slightly further I realised it wasn’t the Coire Cas Tow, but the Carpark Tow I had been looking at. The lower mountain is absolutely loaded.

From Whiteout to Data Blackout

It was a fair question as to why when installing a webcam on a mountain it was looking predominately at wooden decking and a fence. Partly to ensure that the there was always something in view with which to gauge the visibility – plus we hoped the decking would be useful to gauge new snow falls on and the extent to which snow was falling vs drifting.

Whiteout from the SSC Hut on Wed 9th Jan 2008

Whiteout conditions affect the Gorm as hurricane force winds on the upper mountain fill the air with snow on Wed 9th Jan 2008. Unfortunately an hour later communication with the webcams was lost after the storms started affecting mobile data coverage in the area.

I am lead to believe that the system is currently connecting via a more distant cell, this is reducing reliability and heavier snow showers are causing intermittent drop outs in the signal.

Damp New Year !

Following a rather damp and misty afternoon slide up top on CairnGorm, the walk from the bottom back up to the Ski Club Hut at 2500ft was undertaken to check up on the webcams and make some modifications.

The changes included renaming the images from the additional third camera to mid.jpeg and setting the existing two cameras to upload short video clips each hour.

The latest images from the three cameras can be found at www.winterhighland.info/testcam

Video Clips can be accessed by clicking the video icon/link at the top of each image and each camera also stores 6 images from the past hour.