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Slightly less windy mid-week: Top Basin at CairnGorm has best snow (if wind behaves)...

This Report for the Scottish Highlands was issued at
20.48hrs Monday 22nd December 2014.
The 2015 Winterhighland Desk Calendars have arrived... Please order on or before Sat 27th Dec for delivery by Hogmanay.

Buy: www.winterhighland.info/shop .

Still blustery on Monday, but a vastly better day than Sunday's horror show, the temperature dropped back ending the thaw and overhead was fairly bright for the Lecht and CairnGorm which were offering limited snowsports on Monday.

Most likely it will just be the Lecht and CairnGorm Mountain offering lift served snowsports on Tuesday, but with colder conditions and some snow showers forecast Glencoe and Glenshee will have a look to see what if anything can be salvaged after Sunday's pressure washer.

At Glencoe it's not all that bad news, the gullies and natural snow fields retain some decent accumulations and there's now a consolidated base beginning to take shape, most of the main runs are just about there so it wouldn't require a huge amount of new snow to be able to put the critical links and up-tracks back together again.

Still gusty winds, regularly getting up above 50mph across the line of the Ciste Tow on the less exposed upper section on Monday meant that the uplift was again restricted to just the Funicular, though the Cas Tow probably could have run from the Top of the Gunbarrel in the afternoon and it would be useful as it would allow people to ski the upper Cas which has good snow cover without having to negotiate the Zig Zags and/or Gunbarrel every lap to do so as the Zig Zags though passable could do with as little use as possible!

Forecast is more promising for Tuesday and Wednesday as far as wind speeds goes, though it's not as good as it was yesterday and it will still be quite blustery but the forecast speeds should if accurate hopefully not prevent the two Top T-bars making their belated season debut at CairnGorm Mountain on Tuesday.

The Top Basin runs on CairnGorm retains good cover, particularly for pre-Christmas. The Ptarmigan Bowl is wide, the Ptarmigan Traverse is in good shape and the Fairway is full length fence to fence between the Ciste Tow and West Wall Poma, the Ciste Bowl looks pretty good too.

So that is where the best cover and conditions will be found on Tuesday wind permitting. The surface was firm, but grippy in the Ptarmigan Bowl on Monday afternoon and on the whole the open terrain's surface conditions was much more favourable than might have been expected. The only slick bits were the top of the Traverse and bits of the 105, they were avoidable by heading further along the Traverse towards the top of the the Cas T-bar, where the Upper Cas was giving nice turns on well groomed snow.

With slightly colder temperatures on Tuesday the snow may well be set up a little bit harder, the snow is likely to be hardest where it was most exposed to the driving rain on Sunday, such as the top of the Traverse. It is possible to ski to the Daylodge via the Fiacaill Ridge, but this involves a bit of uphill work to get to the top of the Cas T-bar from the Traverse, alternatively you can just about get down the lower slopes with a bit of creativity in the routes used, but officially you should take the train down from the middle!

The Lecht had the Falcon open on Monday and it's in decent shape for better skiers and boarders. The Grouse was running off-loading short of the top, this might change for Tuesday if the top of the run can be patched up. Beginner areas are limited to part of the Kestral Poma run, so with slightly better weather forecast the top of CairnGorm is looking the better bet for novices and early intermediates on Tuesday.

:: Club Fields
The English club fields saw their first action of the season last Saturday, with the tows running at Weardale and Yad Moss. Very thin cover, but much more skiable than it looked thanks to very smooth grassy slopes. There are photos from both in the Public Reports. A return to colder conditions and more snow is now required though.

In Southern Scotland, Lowther Hills Ski Club have completed the installation of the rope tow downline towers and re-erected the engine shed on Lowther Hill today. So the tow isn't far away from being ready to spin, hopefully some slightly better weather will allow the rope to spliced and the final jobs done to get the tow ready to go and give it a spin for the first time since it was taken down from Harwood.

:: Warren Miller Ski Film Tour
We'll be back on the road in January for a couple more shows at Hawick on Tue 20th Jan and finally to round off this season's Warren Miller Film Tour we're at the historic Bo'ness Hippodrome on Wed 21st Jan.

Tickets & more info at
www.winterhighland.info/warrenmiller .
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:: Mountain Weather Outlook
Snow showers and in relative terms less windy on Tuesday, moderate Westerlies with the FL just below the lower slopes giving -2°c at Munro Level. West 20 gusting 30 to 45mph. Best chance of brightness towards the East of the Cairngorms, snow showers most frequent towards the West.

Further snow showers for Wednesday and with the wind going towards the North West later in the day these might become more frequent for the Northern Cairngorms. Some brighter spells possible for Glencoe and Glenshee. Minus 2°c at Munro Level, dropping -3°c in the West later. West 30 gusting 40mph, probably 50mph over Northern Cairngorms, but a risk that the wind speed could increase for a time, still some uncertainty.

Indications for Christmas Day is for a ridge of high pressure to give settled but possibly inversion conditions, so a chance it may be misty or foggy at low levels in some glens, while a few snow showers may come into Western Costal hills and possibly in off the Moray Firth. Generally light and variable winds at Munro Level becoming North Westerly 10 to 15mph. Temperature will be around -3 to possibly -4°c at Munro Level, but no discernible freezing level away from costal locations and some glens might stay subzero and foggy while a bit higher up basks in unbroken sunshine.

Beyond uncertainty ramps way up, a storm will be approaching on Boxing Day, though it's likely to be a fine and frosty start for many areas, snow may already have moved into the Western ranges by dawn. Snow showers will spread across to the Cairngorms during the day, how quickly they do so remains questionable. Wind speeds will be moderate to strong for a chunk of the day, around 20 to 30 gusting 40 to over the Cairngrom Plateau 50mph, but will increase dramatically but hopefully late in the day, though timing uncertain to be in the region of 60 to 70mph gusting 100+mph. A severe night is expected, exact track of the storm system will impact the temperature and whether the Highland Mountains are exposed to the warm sector. On balance a period of heavy, but wet soggy snow with high freezing levels looks likely.

A severe day looks probably for Saturday with North Westerly Severe Gales looking likely, snow showers merging together at times will give whiteout at higher levels. Detail could change markedly for better or worse post Christmas, so check for updated forecasts regularly, some indications of things calming down from Sunday for a while!

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

:: Scottish Snowsport Areas: Snowphones & Websites
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
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tricky
Northern Cairngorms Outlook
snow-showers.png
Tuesday 23rd December
FL: 2000ft.  Snow Showers
914m: -2°c West 30-45mph
sun-snow-showers.png
Wednesday 24th December
FL: 2000ft.  Snow Showers
914m: -2°c West 30-55mph
More... 
  20.32hrs Mon 22nd Dec
West Highlands Outlook
snow-showers.png
Tuesday 23rd December
FL: 2000ft.  Snow Showers
914m: -2°c West 25-35mph
sun-snow-showers.png
Wednesday 24th December
FL: 2500ft.  Snow Showers
914m: -2°c West 30-40mph
More... 
  20.32hrs Mon 22nd Dec
Southern Cairngorms Outlook
sun-snow-showers.png
Tuesday 23rd December
FL: 2000ft.  Snow Showers
914m: -2°c West 25-40mph
sun-snow-showers.png
Wednesday 24th December
FL: 2000ft.  Snow Showers
914m: -2°c West 30-40mph
More... 
  20.33hrs Mon 22nd Dec
CairnGorm Mtn // Mon 22nd Dec
>>>
Ciste Fairway. Lighter winds mean Top Tows hopefully open Tuesday!
Glencoe // Sat 20th Dec
>>>
Plateau Poma already well filled on a rare pre-Christmas start at Glencoe.
CairnGorm Mtn // Fri 19th Dec
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Good cover in the Top Basin if the wind would just cooperate... Funicular most likely for Sat, but check AM.
CairnGorm Mtn // Tue 16th Dec
>>>
Ptarmigan Traverse being prepared late Tuesday. Ciste & Ptarmigan T-bar scheduled for Wed if wind allows.
Glencoe // Sat 13th Dec
>>>
Looking up the Wall from the Plateau Cafe.
CairnGorm Mtn // Sat 13th Dec
>>>
Getting some opening day turns in on windpacked powdery snow in the Cas Boulderfield.