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Lovely Thursday... then new snow at the weekend!

This Report for the Scottish Highlands was issued at
21.29hrs Wednesday 13th May 2015.
Join us for one last lift assisted slide on Mid Summer's Day at Glencoe (Sun 21st June) when the Cliffhanger Chair is due to run to help get skiers and boarders up to the mid-summer snow patches.

Not much change in the snow cover since the official end of the season on CairnGorm Mountain on Sunday and Thursday and most of Friday looks like fine conditions for the keen to get for a hike & ride or a late spring tour. It's back to unsettled conditions later Friday as rain sweeps in, but overnight colder air will dig in and that precipitation should fall as snow to below Munro Level through Saturday, with beefy snow showers continuing into next week.

Last weekend a fine Saturday brought a pretty decent day of top to mid-station riding on CairnGorm Mountain giving 1300ft of lift served vertical, but it was a rather damp and windy end to the season with the wind limiting uplift to just the Funicular for top to middle riding on Sunday.

That was supposed to be that... But with another cool spell forecast and perhaps up to a foot of new snow to come at higher levels in the West, 6-8 inches possibly on CairnGorm through the weekend into early next week, with a cool week currently forecast to lead up to the late May Bank Holiday weekend, maybe just maybe somewhere will change their minds!

In the meantime if you are thinking of going for a hike & ride, tour or taking to the lift served mountain bike trails this weekend, wrap up warm it's not going to feel like late spring and the wind will be pretty gusty as well.

In terms of touring potential, there's still huge cover in the Back Corries at Nevis and you don't have to climb much from the Gondola station to get your skins on. Goose Gully is still complete well down onto the Allt Sneachda.

As far as easily accessible stuff within the snowsports areas go, Glencoe's in the best shape with natural gullies and snow fields that form the bulk of the middle and upper runs still loaded, 1300ft of vertical is still possible for those prepared to hoof to the summit.

Looking ahead, lets see if we can beat last years turnout of 80 or so skiers and boarders on Mid Summer's day at Glencoe this year. The plan as in recent years is that the Cliffhanger Chairlift will run for 20-30minutes in the morning to help get skiers and boarders up to mid-mountain level, last year those that were quick managed to sneak in a run or two in the Canyon off the Cliffhanger. At present it's absolutely loaded, so lets see how that fares over the next month and a bit. Currently scheduled for Sun 21st June, but could change to Saturday if forecast dictates.

Something else coming up this month that maybe of particular interest to snowsports enthusiasts in the South of Scotland is an open day on Lowther Hill. Come along on Sunday 31st May and see what Lowther Hills Ski Club has been up to over the past winter and what is planned for the summer ahead of next season.

Over the course of the past 7 months the club has dismantled the former Harwood Rope Tow and re-installed it on Lowther Hill, providing a 500m main lift. It's hoped to install permanent wooden snow fencing on the hill this summer / autumn and install a proper wooden clubhouse on the slopes. Don't forget that everything the club does depends on volunteer effort, so if you want to get involved in a different aspect of snowsports any help is appreciated.

:: Mountain Biking
Nevis Range is open daily for lift served mountain biking on the World Cup Downhill and Red route, but the World Cup track will be closed this weekend 16/17th May for a race.

Glencoe is due to open the Red Downhill on Saturday 16th May, with the Black Downhill due to open on Saturday 30th May. Note the tracks will be closed for the SDA downhill race weekend on Sat 23rd and Sun 24th May.

:: Summer Developments
It will be all eyes on Glencoe and Glenshee which will see this summers most visible and major developments with a new lift apiece. Glenshee is replacing the old Cairnwell Chairlift with the Tiger Triple Chair, which along with the Baddoch Chairlift will mean a four fold increase in uplift capacity from the carparks on the Cairnwell side of the mountain compared with 2010.

At Glencoe a new T-bar will run from below the Plateau Cafe up the side of Old Mugs Alley to just above the top of the Plateau Poma. This will directly serve some of the easier terrain on the Plateau / lower mid-mountain, as well as allowing direct return from the cafe to the Plateau runs and should indirectly free up capacity on the Cliffhanger Chair and Wall T-bar by spreading the load over more uplift.

Also at Glencoe a new shower and toilet block for the hobbit houses and camping is due to be installed by early summer along with a new water and sewage system. The Plateau Cafe is due to be extended with new toilet facilities and will be re-roofed over the summer. Around 2 km of new snow fencing are required for the new T-bar and another 2km of fencing are due to be replaced with rail fencing.

:: 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 at this time of year.

CAIRNGORM: All online, but 3G signal is weak at the SSC Hut which may cause intermittent connection issues.

AVIEMORE: All 3 Aviemore cams online.

GLENCOE: Network problems after recent power outages have been fixed and most cams are back online. We are working at the mid-mountain, changing the network setup to install a new weather station, this will affect availability of the SSC Hut webcam and AWS over the next few days.

NEVIS: Our mid Goose webcam is online.

:: Mountain Weather Outlook
A fine day on Thursday is forecast, extensive Sunny periods in the West, patchy cloud in the East. Moderate SE wind, likely to be noticably stronger around the Nevis Range mountains due to local topographic funneling. Around +3 to +4°c at Munro Level, after an overnight frost, but may rise to between +5 and +7°c during the later afternoon near the West Coast for a time.

Friday will start fine, but early Sun will fade from the West and by late afternoon or early evening the first rain showers are expected to have reached the Western mountains, quickly spreading North and East. Souther 20 gusting 30 to 40mph, around 2 to +3°c at Munro Level, rising briefly in the evening.

Overnight the freezing level will fall back and the precipitation will fall as snow to or later below Munro Level. Showers will give periodic whiteout conditions at higher levels, West 50 gusting 80mph expected Northern Cairngorms. Perhaps a few brighter spells further South in the Cairngorms, but in the West the showers will be more frequent and may merge into some longer spells of mountain snow. FL dropping to or below Munro Level, 0°c lowering -1°c from the West at 914m. Widely 40 gusting 60 to 70mph on the tops, could potentially affect bike uplift, so check on the day.

More snow showers on Sunday, but some sunny spells between them, these most frequent towards the East, while showers most frequent in the West. Around 0 to +1°c at Munro level. Wind WSW and moderating from Saturday, but still quite blowy at 30 gusting 45mph in the West, but still gusts 60mph in the East at least through the morning.

Cooler by a degree or so on Monday with further snow showers, these most frequent in the West and the showers may be pretty beefy convective affairs, thus snow may fall lower than the temperature and FL suggest. Expecting 0°c at Munro Level in the East and -1°c in the West. Moderate SW wind easing further through the day.

That sets the seen for a cool spell of weather through mid-week with further snow showers, though obviously detail becomes less and less certain further out. Over the weekend to Monday forecast modles suggest some western Munros may see up to a foot of new snow, be prepared for full on winter conditions!

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
Saturday 23rd May
FL: >Tops.  Part Cloudy
914m: 3°c SW 20 gust 30mph
Sunday 24th May
FL: 2500ft.  Flurries
914m: -1°c West 25-45mph
  17.47hrs Fri 22nd May
West Highlands Outlook
Saturday 23rd May
FL: >Tops.  Part Cloudy
914m: 4°c SW 15 gust 25mph
Sunday 24th May
FL: 3000ft.  Snow Showers
914m: 0°c West 20-35mph
  17.29hrs Fri 22nd May
Southern Cairngorms Outlook
Saturday 23rd May
FL: >Tops.  Part Cloudy
914m: 3°c SW 15 gust 25mph
Sunday 24th May
FL: 3000ft.  Snow Showers
914m: 0°c West 20-35mph
  17.49hrs Fri 22nd May
Glencoe // Sat 23rd May
Heading up the Main Basin. Put the mid-summer slide on 21st June in your diary!
Glencoe // Thu 14th May
The Spring Run - still loads to do mid and upper mountain for those prepared to hike / skin.
CairnGorm Mtn // Sat 9th May
Top to Mid Station riding on offer giving 1300ft of vertical.
CairnGorm Mtn // Mon 4th May
Top of the Traverse. Top to middle riding.
Glencoe // Mon 4th May
Main Basin in epic shape on closing day with fantastic spring snow.
Glencoe // Sat 2nd May
Huge cover in the Main Basin providing great riding for confident intermediates and above.
Glencoe // Fri 1st May
Get up early Saturday to catch some of this on the Main Basin!
CairnGorm Mtn // Thu 30th Apr
Bursts of blue sky and Sun between the snow / hail showers today. Looking up Coire Cas which is still in great shape with plenty of fences still out of sight!