Timely suggestions for the best sources of up to the minute winter weather and conditions reports.
This week's tip is a reminder as much as anything, with a quick look at handy winter weather resources to keep you up to date on hill conditions as things get cold and gnarly.
We run a regular Friday weekend mountain weather summary here on OM with links to all the major online weather resources, but a few handy forecasts stand out if you want specialist mountain weather information.
One point to bear in mind is that no-one is infallible. The shorter the time frame, the more accurate the forecast is likely to be, so check back for the most recent updates and don't assume that because Friday's forecast says that Sunday will be fine that things won't change.
The Lake District's very own mountain weather resource has one stand-out feature that makes it a superb source of info on conditions in the Lakes namely the daily report from the summit of Helvellyn – now back for this winter – which includes temperatures, windspeed and wind chill figures along with an expert assessment of conditions underfoot and what they mean for you.
Along with that, there's the Met Office mountain forecast for the area. Find it at www.lakedistrictweatherline.co.uk.
Met Office Mountain Forecasts
Alongside its regular general weather prognostications, the Met Office also provides excellent detailed mountain forecasts for seven major hill regions including East and West Highlands, the Lakes, Snowdonia, Peak, Dales and the Brecon Beacons.
Forecasts include a general overview with valley and summit temperatures, wind speeds, visibility and freezing levels. In the case of Snowdonia and North Wales, there's also basic ground condition information.
Find it at www.metoffice.gov.uk/loutdoor/mountainsafety/index.html.
Mountain Weather Information Service
Part funded by the Scottish Government, MWIS issues daily forecasts for the major Scottish Highland regions along with the Southern Uplands plus the Lakes and North Wales and a combined Peak and Dales forecast.
Intriguingly, compared to the Met Office, MWIS seems generally more pessimistic, but still carries excellent detailed weather info, particularly north of the border. The odd mixed Peak/Dales forecast is a bit of an anomaly given that the weather between the two can be dramatically different and subjectively, since the forecasts were merged, the Peak one seems quite random.
Find it at www.mwis.org.uk.
Scottish Avalanche Information Service
Another superb publically-funded resource is Sport Scotland's Avalanche Information portal which carries detailed avalanche outlooks for five major Scottish mountain areas in easily absorbed diagramatic form along with explanations. There are also handy blogs complete with images from the various avalanche assessors on the ground.
This winter's forecasts start on 15 December and you can also access them by text or find them posted in strategic locations on the ground.
Find it at www.sais.gov.uk.
There's plenty more out there – mountain web cams can give a valuable idea of what's happening on the ground and forums, like the one on this site, can be a valuable source of firsthand information on recent conditions.