Glencoe: Groundhog Day

As of Monday afternoon all the Glencoe webcams were back up and running, including the Summit Cam at the top of the Main Basin.  At this point I must say a big thank you to Nigel and the team at the Glencoe Hotel, who’s hospitality and support has been a great help to quickly restoring the webcam service once the physical damage on the hill had been fixed.

After spending much of last Thursday and Friday marching up and down under the Access Chair, searching for cable joints, then for complete pairs and joining the parts of the cable jigsaw together, as dusk began to fall on Friday afternoon the ADSL modem at the top of the Access Chair synced up!!

Colourful Dusk Sky on Fri 13th Jan

Colourful Dusk Sky on Fri 13th Jan

With that (and some server side stuff) the majority of the Glencoe webcam views came back online for the first time since Hurricane Bawbag turned 200 odd individual wires into a cable soup at the foot of the Access Chair – the wind at the Car Park having attained 106mph before the power failed – for more than a week!

The unrelenting sequence of storms since Hurricane Bawbag has caused further damage to buildings on the hill, the  concrete  hut at the top of the Main Basin T-bar losing 2 walls! With the repairs  completed early last week, the Summit webcam equipment could be returned to the hut and a new shelf put in for the kit. The computer apparently having survived being found buried in and being full of snow in the badly storm damaged hut, fired up, the vodafone dongle connected to the GPRS service and webcam images flowed from the Summit once more.

Old Summit Anemometer

Old Summit Anemometer

A new Peet Bros Ultimeter Automatic Weather Station (AWS) was also installed on Monday, to replace the previous technoline WS2300 which was torn to shreds in a storm last year. It’s worth noting the same model of weather station has recorded windspeeds over 100mph on several occasions without damage at the Carpark and SSC Hut – an idea of the windspeed required to do that!

By end of play on Monday all webcams were up and running, along with the new Summit AWS. All that remained to do was tidy a few bits up and put up the replacement anemometer mast at the SSC Hut. Then attention could turn to restoring the WiFi bridge from the Access Chair to the SSC hut, which would enable much more frequent webcam updates than the vodafone GPRS connection.

New Peet Bros Anemometer

New Peet Bros Anemometer in action on Tuesday afternoon. Rated to 160mph....

Alas, in the early hours of Tuesday morning the Summit Webcam Computer’s previous misadventures with a snowdrift caught up with it and it suffered a hardware failure.

So after realising that the computer would not work reliably if it booted at all, it was time to bring up a replacement, which was no small portable computing device, but rather a huge hulk of a tower desktop. Over the Plateau on a Quad Bike, up the Cliffhanger Chair, lugged it over to the foot of the Main Basin, then it was Ski Patrol to the rescue.

PC First Aid... Lashing a large desktop to a Ski Patrol Sled

PC First Aid... Lashing a large desktop to a Ski Patrol Sled.

Thus Tuesday was spent much like Monday, moving hardware to the top of the mountain, setting it up with the camera, downloading the backup scripts for the camera and AWS from the Winterhighland Server, configuring them and then getting it online. That proved to be another headache, the Vodafone dongle refused to work. So out came my own Three dongle, what do you know, HSDPA and a faster internet connection than I get at home on ADSL at the top of Meall a’ Bhuiridh!

So at the close of play on Tuesday, like on Monday, I left the top of the hill with Ski Patrol having just restored the Summit Cam and AWS to service. It was starting to feel a little like groundhog day.

Then while watching the rising wind at the Summit from the Glencoe Hotel on my laptop, this happened:

Anemometer Uh Oh!

Anemometer Uh Oh!

A gust just shy of 90mph is followed by a consistent wind speed reading of zero and exact direction of due South. That sort of wind graph gives a feeling of (probably costly) dread. Tomorrow wind permitting, we’ll find out what befell the anemometer and whether it or any part of it is still at the top of the mountain. I just hope after all the Glencoe team have had to deal with from the storms this season that we don’t find the building upside down on the T-bar off ramp!

Tomorrow could well feel a bit more like groundhog day…..

Snow greets new WH Glencoe Webcams

A blustery and snowy Autumn day at Glencoe on Friday, which wasn’t the best for lugging computer equipment to 2800ft on a Scottish Mountain. www.winterhighland.info/cams/glencoe .

Snow starting to lie to the top of the Access.

Snow starting to lie to the top of the Access.

Thanks to  the Scottish Ski Club (for their support and hosting the kit ),  the staff at Glencoe for their assistance today and to those who have generously contributed to the Winterhighland cause this autumn, we now have two new Winterhighland Webcams up and running at the Glencoe Scottish Ski Club Hut on Meall a’ Bhuiridh.

For now this is a very temporary installation that will be made more permanent in due course. With snow on the ground and more forecast the mission was to get some webcams to let people see the weather and snow asap. So with the wind forecast markedly improving for Friday with Thursday’s updated forecasts, after a couple of phone calls, a computer system was hurriedly set up  and a Vodafone usb dongle bought shortly before 7pm, once some frantic googling appeared to confirm ways existed to get it to fire up under Xubuntu linux on a ancient P3 with 256mb of RAM!

Here comes the computer

Here comes the computer on it's way up the Cliffhanger Chairlift on Friday afternoon.

The equipment and that necessary to set-up the gear up and get it on-line were carried up on the Access and Cliffhanger Chair, and lugged over the Plateau. The views currently on offer are dictated by proximity to power and the need to keep the cameras close to the computer, a new power supply and usb extender cables will be used when the system is permanently installed, this will provide an improved view up to the Top Tows, plus allow a camera to be higher up looking down over the Canyon to the Wall. There is also the  possibility of sitting the cameras at the other side of the hut, looking down the Cliffy line and over the upper part of Mugs Alley (or indeed an additional camera for this), so let us know what view you’d prefer and this will guide the final placement.

Webcam looking out the gable end of the SSC Hut.

Webcam looking out the gable end of the SSC Hut.

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)

Wooohooo Snowing ! :)

Every office across the land that has at least one skier or boarder will no doubt have seen productivity drop and bandwidth use rocket today! Snow falling on the webcams at the start of the first significant cold snap of the autumn, yes there was some snow last week and at the start of the Month, but this week things are ramping up another level!

There are weather warnings out from the Met Office for Tuesday, lots of chatter in the weather forums and a real buzz is building. Fellow skiers and boarders… winter is getting closer and for the fist time this new season, the slats on the Ski Club hut’s decks have vanished beneath fresh fluffy snow!

SSC Hut Balcony slats vanish under the snow for the first time this season!

SSC Hut Balcony slats vanish under the snow for the first time this season!