Loch Morlich breaks free, but the thaw eases

The sustained thaw of recent days has been steadily weakening the ice that had kept it’s wintry grip on Loch Morlich for 94 days and alas the overnight gales coupled with rising water levels eventually fractured the weakened ice and within hours the Loch was open and choppy, once the ice fractured the wind and increasing waves accelerated the break up.

^Loch Morlich remains ice bound at dusk on Thursday.

Get the Flash Player to see this player.

^But by late morning the Loch was free from the grasp of winter.

Sad in a way that the Loch did not remain frozen for another week to break the 100 day mark and it will seem slightly strange to look down from the ‘Gorm for the first time in three months and not see the white frozen expanse below.

The bit of good news for snowsports though is that the air temperature was back below freezing at the Summit late afternoon and dew points are below 0c and it’s dry, plus the wind is moderating. Snow should be setting up firm higher up and drying out and crunching up lower down – the thaw for now has relented.

Adam Watson reports that by the afternoon snow had stopped thawing and was firming up about 150-200ft above the car park level at Glenshee and at 2600ft the ground was still frozen where snow free. Frozen ground is as good as a base in that any new snow falling sticks straight away, it might almost be the Spring Equinox, but spring can stay on hold just now, we’re hopefully not yet done with winter 2010.

Loch Morlich Cam & AWS

Currently at Loch Morlich Water Sports to complete the re-installation of the AWS and level the webcam, so fortunately we can see not the mountains this lunchtime!

The thermometer and hydrometer are now housed in a radiation screen which should solve the issue of sudden and unrealistic spikes in temperature when the sun comes out at certain times of day.

The webcam has been levelled (easier when there is something to see!) and is now also uploading a short video clip every 15minutes. This clip will be useful for gauging the conditions on the Loch as well as over the mountain tops, where scudding clouds give a clear indication of very high wind speeds.

If you find the existing Winterhighland webcams useful and can afford to do so, perhaps  you would like to consider a donation or voluntary  subscription to help secure continued expansion  and operation of Winterhighland’s  webcam and weather station network?


Loch Morlich AWS & Cam

Brrr, canoeists brave a chilly autumn morning on Loch Morlich.

Brrr, canoeists brave a chilly autumn morning on Loch Morlich.

A chilly, damp and misty Wednesday morning was spent reinstalling the Automatic Weather Station at Loch Morlich Water Sports which was off-line due to renovations on the outside of the Boathouse during late October. The anemometer and rain gauge have been mounted above the roof-line to improve exposure.

The temperature sensor is currently un-screened and will read several degrees too high mid-morning in sunny weather , this will be rectified asap (awaiting parts for the radiation screen).

Where? The visibility worsened while installing the webcam!

Where? The visibility worsened while installing the webcam!

This will be the first full winter for this AWS being on-line and it will be fascinating to see how night time temperatures differ from both the mountain and Aviemore in the sheltered location of Glenmore which is surrounded by higher ground on all sides with only a couple of relatively narrow openings – helping to pool cold air.

Also installed was the new Loch Morlich Web Cam which provides a view of CairnGorm Mountain from the Boathouse. Looking over the Beach and Eastern end of the Loch this cam gives a wide view over the Windy Ridge, Coire Cas, Coire an t-Sneachda and Coire an Lochain.

This webcam is infra red sensitive which means it is able to pick up the very first hint of light as dawn approaches and as such will start updating 1 hour before sunrise so will prove useful in the depths of winter when the days are shortest for getting an earlier sneak preview of what the weather’s doing / done overnight. The camera can’t ‘see’ in the dark, thus does need a bit of light, so on particularly gloomy overcast mornings it may take a little bit longer for scenery to become visible.

Loch Morlich AWS and Webcam.

Loch Morlich AWS and Webcam.

Our Loch Morlich webcam updates every minute, so will be great for storm watching as the clouds and hopefully snow roll in over the mountains.

There is one unintended consequence of the cam’s IR sensitivity, in certain lighting conditions the Scots Pines appear purple!

The webcam and current weather can be viewed on the Loch Morlich Cam page at www.winterhighland.info/cams/cairngorm-mountain/morlich.php . As well as current weather, 5 minute reports for the last hour & hourly for the past 24 hours are provided in tabular format along with graphs showing air temperature and the 5 minute mean and gust wind speed over the past 48 hours.

Live Cam Image:

Live view from Loch Morlich (Daylight hours)

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.