New AWS at Loch Morlich

This afternoon myself and Keith from Loch Morlich Water Sports installed a new Automatic Weather Station at Loch Morlich at an altitude of 1050ft (or 320m for those who try to make the hills look smaller than they are).

Coupled with Winterhighland’s other the AWS at the SSC Hut at 2500ft up on the ‘Gorm along with CML’s AWS on the Funicular Tunnel Mouth at 3400ft and the Met Office and Herriot Watt Unis Summit AWS there is now  (and  possibly uniquely in the UK) a good  vertical spread in live weather reporting stations on CairnGorm Mountain from the Glen to the Summit.

Take together these should provide a great resouce for monitoring how conditions are changing and provide a useful tool for helping plan weather dependent activities year round.

It is also hoped that they will taken together with longer standing manual records allow for a better understanding of the climate on CairnGorm Mountain and how the weather varies spatially and altitudinally on the mountain, helping with planning for the future of snowsports on the ‘Gorm.

For any one interested in some of the technical details, the Weather Station at Loch Morlich is a Technoline WS2300 with data handling and upload undertaken by a PII running Xubuntu linux with the Open2300 open source command line applications.

The AWS at the SSC Hut on CairnGorm Mountain is a WS3600 with propeller anemometer using the Open3600 software suite.

SSC & L. Morlich AWS www.winterhighland.info/cairngorm .

The Funicular Tunnel AWS  www.cairngormmountain.co.uk .

Herriot Watt Summit AWS www.phy.hw.ac.uk/resrev/weather.htm .

Please visit Loch Morlich Water Sports , once again many thanks for your help in making it possible to get live weather data from Glenmore.

Anemometer problem and a storm coming

There’s been a recurring issue over the past few days witn the wind data dropping out from the Ski Club Hut automatic weather station on CairnGorm Mountain.

The intermittent rather than constant nature of the problem suggests a poor connection and/or damaged wiring is to blame. The anemometer has functioned when temps have been lowest, suggestive that water ingress into the AWS unit might be a contributing factor.

Weather permitting if the forecast lull does indeed come over during Saturday the Weather Station will be taken apart and checked out, connections cleaned out, cables checked and hopefully it will function OK given the predicated storms. The weather station will if time/weather allows also be switched over to cable link rather than radio link which should improve reporting of stronger gusts due to more frequent sampling.

The mariginal nature of the snow event at times though means the likelyhood of wet driving snow for a time at the SSC Hut level which greatly increases the potential risk for anemometer icing. If anyone has a couple of grand going spare for a heated sensor array, drop us a line! :D

Webcams back online

The router and comms equipment in the SSC hut was shutdown and reset on Thursday afternoon and the Ski Club Hut cameras on CairnGorm Mountain are back on-line and functioning normally.

A replacement webcam box has been installed in Mountain Spirit in Aviemore and we now once again have a low level view looking along Grampian Road in the direction of the Ski Road Roundabout to distant hills. This camera is useful for gauging low level snow events and also early morning check-ups on non-trunk road conditions in wintry weather. The Mountain Spirit webcam is online 24/7 due to it viewing a street lit area.

An additional view looking over the Strath to the Northern Cairngorms will be available shortly, also from Mountain Spirit.

SSC Hut Webcams – Comms Problem

Winterhighland’s Webcam and AWS system at the Scottish Ski Club Hut has been down since late on Monday (5th Jan) due to a communications failure. The exact nature of the problem can not be determiend remotely and a site visit is planned for Thursday 8th Jan.

Providing the issue is not a hardware issue with the router or network equipment it should be possible to restore the webcam and aws feed at some point on Thursday.

In the meantime here’s the final images from Monday afternoon which captured the pefect if chilly weather very nicely:

Happy New Year !!

Wishing all readers of Winterhighland all the best for 2009 and hope you had a good one whatever you were up to on Hogmanay.

New Year’s Day brought a flurry or two to the mountains, nothing very significant by any stretch however it was enough to take the edge of the hard base on CairnGorm and the continued cold weather with light winds has allowed the Lecht and Glenshee to fire up their old fan guns to enable all the Eastern areas to offer some riding over the New year period.

The snow making equipment at the Lecht and Glenshee certainly isn’t state of the art and being entirely manual – someone has to go and turn on each hydrant at the required flow and set up the gun – means it’s very cold and wet work, so a big shout for the guys who spent the New Year Holiday getting cold and wet so we could have some more runs to play on ! :)

The success with limited old manual equipment does raise the question of just what might be achievable with a modern, more extensive and at least to some extent automated system. Winterhighland’s AWS (Automatic Weather Station) at the SSC Hut at 2500ft on CairnGorm Mountain has logged over 760hours where the wet-bulb temperature has been cold enough for modern Ratnik Sky Giant air/water guns since the end of October. (Not all these hours would have been suitable due to wind,  but the data also shows the degree to which the foot of the White Lady can be sheltered in certain wind directions. This has implications elsewhere on the mountain in that there will in some wind directions be part of the mountain where snow can be made even when high winds are plaguing much of the mountain.)

Winterhighland into 2009

Well for one thing the blog admin which had problems following an upgrade to the software is fixed! More importantly the site has been widened, partly to accommodate additional advertising, some from Google Adsense, some shared snowsports adverts with Fall Line Media. The really important bit is why these adverts are needed – they are contributing to the substantial cost of a brand new dedicated server for Winterhighland which should significantly improve site load times and stability despite the volatile traffic spikes that inevitably hit whenever snow is forecast and so far it has coped admarilly with some early surges in traffic that October’s excitement caused.

The wider format is gradually being rolled out and it also allows for a summary lift report on the general situation page, wider thumbnails for Pix from the Slopes on the GS and area report pages, plus much larger thumbnails on the front page.

The UK Ice Conditions Server now links into the GS page with the latest photos, several small improvements will be rolled out across the site to provide more cross links to the various member supplied photo galleries on the reports servers, particularly the public reports so they better integrate and compliment the Pix from the Slopes.

Here’s to a snowy 2009.