The Lecht was the best option on Friday and overhead wise ought to be on Saturday, but warm Storm Force winds with a Fohn effect expected overnight - check AM. Horrendous day with biblical rainfall totals forecast for the West - even small burns maybe come uncrossable and a significant flood potential in the whole Ness and Spey Catchments.
A very wild day on Saturday is expected, currently the forecast is much better for Sunday wind wise, but there will be a significant thaw over the next 36 hours, so we will need to see what is what late Saturday, though it will be into the early hours of Sunday before the temperature is expected to start to fall back.
The Lecht faired best again on Friday, being able to offer a range of the main runs with all but the summit crest relatively sheltered from the gales. So far, away from the very top the main runs have held up well to two days of thaw, with still full width cover between the fences for the vast bulk of run length.
Glenshee managed to open some Cairnwell side tows, but nothing on the other side of the A93 due to the wind on Friday and CairnGorm was limited to just the Funicular, which closed early afternoon as the wind climbed above 90mph at the tunnel mouth. Keep in mind forecast speeds for daytime Saturday are higher than the wind speeds on Friday, so uplift is likely to be more restricted unless forecasts are wrong. With a mild and very wild night ahead it's also possible that some lower terrain might succumb to the thaw.
The forecast is for a slow moving frontal system to give torrential rain in the West, with progressively less towards the North East, so once again the Lecht is likely to escape with the best overhead conditions on Saturday. However tonight will get progressively milder and the wind will be stronger than it has been today, so potentially more snow loss tonight than the past 2 days. Thus do check the latest situation in the morning, it's probable that some of the Lecht's Pomas will need to offload below the top of the hill as that is where is getting the full force of the SW'ly thawing wind.
Hopefully not too much more damage tonight and the Lecht will be able to offer a range of terrain for all abilities. The Magic Carpet area is getting a bit worn and soggy, as the ground is very flat there, but the Robin and Kestral are still in reasonable shape with full width cover.
Glenshee only managed to open the roadside tows on the Cairnwell side due to the strength of the wind, though in the shelter of the Cairnwell the Cairnwell T-bar itself and Butchart's Access Poma were able to run. Sunnyside is looking a bit sorry under the Chairlift, but there is on reasonable run to skiers right of the Pomas and the uptracks are OK so far. Best cover is on the outer Cairnwell RaceTrack round into Butchart's Coire, plus beyond Sunnyside on Tom Dearg / Cluny and out in Coire Fionn. Meall Odhar has little snow, so the Caenlochan uptrack could be an issue for access to Coire Fionn.
CairnGorm was able to offer top to Daylodge riding on Friday, but the Carpark Runs are suffering and will lose more snow overnight. Fiacaill Ridge might hold out better for getting back to Daylodge. Uplift looks unlikely Saturday as forecast gust speeds above Funicular limit.
There remains good cover as of this afternoon at Nevis and Glencoe, with Glencoe having the most extensive base. Black Access Run still complete to downhill bike track bridge, but unlikely to be the case in the morning. Conditions will have to be assessed when staff re-access the mountain, uplift unlikely Saturday and even if wind allows it, the overhead will be atrocious.
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.
Lowther Hill Ski Club had the 200m portable tow running up on Lowther Hill on Wednesday, great day reported. Milder and wild weather means tows wont run in the next few days, but some work parties are planned if weather not too severe, see website for details. You need to join the club before arriving to use the tows, see www.skiclub.lowtherhills.com
In England only the Lake District Ski Club's Raise Poma has sufficient snow to operate. Check snowphone for updates on weekend possibilities. Note you MUST be a member of the club to use the Poma and it's about an hour from the road. See website for full info.
Please check each club's website for updates and details of access to club facilities and memberships before travelling!
Yad Moss: www.yadmoss.co.uk
01388 317 767.
CAIRNGORM: Ptarmigan and SSC cams online normally. SSC AWS off-line, we are juggling weather stations about to remove a coupe for which we can no longer get parts and hope to have the CairnGorm SSC AWS online again by the weekend if the weather isn't too severe.
AVIEMORE: Two new views added as we trial a couple of cameras this spring for VisitCairngorms at Inverdruie.
GLENCOE: Most cams and Summit + Base AWS online. There appears to be a hardware issue with the mid-mountain wireless link as it has kept dropping out and needing reset over the past 2 days, so it's unlikely that the SSC AWS will come back on until weather allows access.
NEVIS: Our webcam has been moved from base to mid-Goose in the Race Timing Hut.
If you are planning touring or walking in the hills beware that rain and thawing snow will see streams and rivers rise significantly over the coming days. Even fairly small streams may become uncrossable, and the flood risk may extend well beyond the area of heaviest rainfall, the Spey and Ness catchments particularly at risk in that regard.
Though the forecast is pretty atrocious for Saturday, with SSW to SW Storm Force winds or above, widely 60 gusting 90mph and 70 gusting 110 possible around the Cairngorm Plateau, even more severe conditions are expected both Friday night into Saturday morning and after dusk on Saturday. Mean speeds could attain 70 to 80mph for a time tonight according to the forecast models and a risk according to the NMM mesoscale model of SW winds reaching Hurricane Force with mean speeds between 80 and 90mph, potentially even 100mph for at time tomorrow night on the tops and most exposed locations.
Rain fall will be torrential and potentially extreme over the West Highlands on Saturday, some areas may see 200m / 8 inches of rain fall in the 36 hour period from time of update on Friday evening till the rain clears and temperature falls back early Sunday. Showers in the Southern Cairngorms, but fewer towards the North East, and the Lecht might escape dry again, with any showers around CairnGorm expected to not amount to much. Around 5 to 7°c at Munro Level, could be into the teens in the glens and lower ground to the North and NE of the Cairngorms.
Sunday however looks more promising and cooler as well, not as settled as it was looking on Wednesday evening, but much lighter winds than Saturday, some brighter spells for most areas and a few snow showers around, these picking up in the West later. We really need to see what things are looking like at dusk on Saturday to say were will be the best place to aim for on Sunday. Around -1°c expected at 3000ft in the East and lowering -2 or -3°c in the West. Westerly 20 gusting 35 to 40mph in the West, but fresher in the morning in the East with gusts to 60mph still possible early Sunday.
Moderate to strong SE winds for Highland Scotland expected on Monday, but stronger than generally forecast for CairnGorm and particularly Nevis Range due to local topographical funnelling, gusts of 70mph possible at both, while Glencoe should see lighter winds around 20 gusting 35mph. Snow showers will come in to the East, but a band of more organised frontal snow is expected to be over the Western mountains, spreading into the Southern Cairngorms later. Freezing at 2000ft in the East to 1500ft in the West.
Very early indications are for a ridge of high pressure to settle things down to give a fine Tuesday, just the odd snow shower early in the West. If the West does catch the currently promised snow on Monday, then that it could be a good one, but there is an awful lot of water to pass under the bridge before then, sadly literally!
Check the MWIS and Met Office Mountain forecasts for the latest detailed area mountain weather outlooks.
Glencoe: 01855 851226 www.glencoemountain.co.uk
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