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Winter's back - play while you can!

This Report for the Scottish Highlands was issued at
18.54hrs Saturday 25th April 2015.
CairnGorm Mountain and Glencoe are open daily for snowsports through Monday 4th May. Any potential part-time operation thereafter depends on snow, weather and customers! Nevis Range will spin the Quad Chair from 10.30 till 12.30 on Sunday to assist backcountry access.

Etape Loch Ness: Beware that roads that circle Loch Ness including the A82 will be closed on Sunday morning, if you are heading to Glencoe or Nevis from in and around Inverness use the A9/A86.

This mornings webcams revealed a light covering of fresh snow after the overnight drop in temperature, around 3 to 4cm of fresh fell on CairnGorm, a light dusting at Glencoe, with CairnGorm catching the most showers.

It looks like it will probably stay chilly through the coming week, with shallow low pressures bringing organised areas of more persistent snow fall, but the track and position of these remain uncertain. CairnGorm is likely to cop the heaviest and most frequent showers on Sunday, with a slightly higher risk of thunderstorms, but the risk of thunderstorms is quite widespread!

Into the new week it looks as if the West will catch the most snow, so there could be a late April powder day or two somewhere in the next week! Keep a close eye on the webcams and forecasts, our on mountain cams are now updating from just before 5am in the East and just after 5am in the West if you need an early weather check.

CairnGorm Mountain and Glencoe are open daily for snowsports, however though Nevis Range formally closed for the season last weekend, they plan to run the Quad Chair from 10.30am to 12.30pm on Sunday to assist back country access to the more extensive snow fields in the Back Corries (see Nevis Range report for more details).

The snow pack was firmer on Saturday morning, but despite the colder air when the Sun came out the mid-mountain quickly loosened into granular spring snow at Glencoe. Main Basin was well groomed this morning and was pretty nice from the off with the light sprinkling of fresh on top.

The natural snowfields which form the bulk of the main upper and mid mountain runs largely retain a wide and deep cover. As well as the Main Basin, Spring Run and Flypaper Bowl have excellent cover, top half of Happy Valley is good but cut back into the Main Basin.

Mid mountain Thrombosis offers a fun short but quite steep bump field. The Canyon has very deep cover also, the Wall is in good shape as is the Wall Crossover. Mugs Alley is broken below the corner, so cut left higher up using either the cut track on the High Road or the Bunny Run for the easiest way down, but it's fair to say more confident intermediates up will get a lot more out of Glencoe at present. Plateau Poma uptrack is gone, so a 5-8minute walk over to the Plateau Cafe required to access the main area lifts.

CairnGorm is the place to go for easier graded terrain with a range of longer greens and a couple of blues with top to mid-station riding on offer. Ciste and Ptarmigan Bowls, plus Coire Cas remain in decent shape, with 1300ft of vertical on offer. The Traverse has groomed up nicely in the colder weather, and the piste crew have taken advantage of the colder air to move hundreds of tons of snow into the Coire Cas Gunbarrel to improve the bottom section of it, so Coire Cas is in good shape top to bottom again with wide cover on the upper Cas.

From the top of the quad at Nevis it's possible for tourers to skin to the top of the Summit Tow to access the Back Corries.

:: NEW Winterhighland Android App
Optimised for speedy access to the essential information from Scotland's five snowsports areas on even the slowest mobile connections our new Android app is the easiest way to keep tabs with what's happening on the move.

:: Webcams and Weather Stations
Our on mountain webcams update from soon after first light, shortly before 5am in the East and just after in the West.

CAIRNGORM: All currently online, but 3G connection remains marginal.

AVIEMORE: All 3 Aviemore cams online.

GLENCOE: All cams online.

NEVIS: Our mid Goose webcam is online.

:: Mountain Weather Outlook
Notably cold air for the time of year is now established across Highland Scotland and looks set to persist through the coming week, though the potential for a fairly severe storm mid-week has retreated in today's model output.

On the whole wind speeds are likely to be moderate this weekend, but given the convective nature of the clusters of snow showers, stronger squally periods can be expected, where thunderstorms form gusts of 60mph+ could occur. These are more likely on Sunday and Northern Cairngorms at slightly more risk due to onshore wind off the Moray Firth.

Sunday will be a cold day with the Munro Level temperature around -3 to -4°c and likely to drop later in the afternoon with perhaps and -6 to -7°c likely overnight. The moderate North Westerly wind will add a significant windchill. Generally 15 to 25 gusting 30mph, tending to be lighter Glencoe and Nevis due to some topographic shelter from NW winds, but risk of stronger gusts around showers.

That sets the scene into next week, some bright or Sunny spells around but beefy convective snow showers perking up by day. Some areas will see plenty Sun, while nearby might get almost constant snow, such is the nature of this sort of April Showers set up. It looks likely that the greatest risk of more organised snow fall will transfer to the West as a shallow low sits off the coast , but even within it's circulation some locations will see a lot more snow fall than others.

Temperature fluctuating between -2 and -5°c, probably coldest Monday. Generally not too much wind, but SW wind could be quite strong and near gale force later Tuesday.

Very early indications are that even colder air might spread south on Friday 1st May and that could re-fire up the intensity of the convective snow showers. Maybe fresh turns for the May Day holiday weekend? Keep watching...

Check the MWIS and Met Office Mountain forecasts for the latest detailed area mountain weather outlooks.

:: Scottish Snowsport Areas: Snowphones & Websites
Glencoe: 01855 851226
Nevis Range: 01397 705825 www.nevisrange.co.uk
Lecht: 01975 651440 www.lecht.co.uk
CairnGorm: 01479 861261 www.cairngormmountain.co.uk
Glenshee: 013397 41320 www.ski-glenshee.co.uk
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Northern Cairngorms Outlook
Sunday 26th April
FL: 1500ft.  Thunder Storms
914m: -4°c NW 20 gust 30mph
Monday 27th April
FL: 1500ft.  Snow Showers
914m: -4°c SW 15 gust 30mph
  18.22hrs Sat 25th Apr
West Highlands Outlook
Sunday 26th April
FL: 1500ft.  Thunder Storms
914m: -3°c NW 15 gust 25mph
Monday 27th April
FL: 1000ft.  Snow
914m: -5°c Var. 15-30mph
  18.20hrs Sat 25th Apr
Southern Cairngorms Outlook
Sunday 26th April
FL: 1500ft.  Snow Showers
914m: -3°c NW 15 gust 25mph
Monday 27th April
FL: 1000ft.  Snow Showers
914m: -4°c SW 15 gust 25mph
  18.23hrs Sat 25th Apr
Glencoe // Sat 25th Apr
Still lots of terrain mid and upper mountain, plus bank of kickers and several jib features on Mugs Alley.
CairnGorm Mtn // Fri 24th Apr
Looking down the Ptarmigan Traverse to the Top Station.
CairnGorm Mtn // Tue 21st Apr
Re-shaping the Marquis Well Half Pipe above the Ptarmigan Tow
Glencoe // Tue 21st Apr
Main Basin Tuesday morning... come and get some of this on Wednesday!
Nevis Range // Sun 19th Apr
Dropping in to the backs out beyond Summit Coire on Nevis' final day of the 2015 season.
Nevis Range // Sat 18th Apr
Skier drops into Easy Gully.
Glencoe // Sat 18th Apr
Come and get some more of this on Sunday... Don't forget the factor 50 and the smile!
Glencoe // Thu 16th Apr
Why it's called the Spring Run!