OM's weekly no-nonsense look at the mountain weather prospects for the weekend.
Weekend Mountain Weather Round-Up - August 11-12, 2012
Every Friday we bring you links to all the best mountain weather resources on the web, so you can check specific conditions in all the UK's leading mountain areas this weekend plus a quick OM summary to give a general idea of what's happening this weekend. Weather in the hills can change fast, so check back for the latest forecast before you head out.
This Weekend's OM Summary - A Sunday Disagreement...
Sunshine... Dry and sunny Saturday with light winds...
Dark Clouds... Sunday threatens heavy rain and thunder at times, maybe...
It's a weekend of two days, but aren't they all? Well, apart from Bank Holiday ones. Anyway, the bottom line is that Saturday looks universally pretty damny good with light winds, extensive sunshine, clear visibility and summit temperatures as high as 13-14˚C. So looking good.
Sunday isn't quite so clever. If you believe MWIS - and someone has to - winds will get up and there will be, horror, a risk of thunderstorms and heavy rain. When they hit tends to depend on how far north you are. Snowdonia may cop bursts of heavy rain and thunderstorms any time, though possibly clearing by afternoon and evening, while further north it looks like rain is more like in the afternoon. Sunday gusts locally as high as 40mph, but still warm even on the tops.
But hang on a minute - there's a fundamental difference of opinion here Met Office Mountain forecasts don't mention thunderstorms or any rain more serious than 'the risk of a sharp shower' at all for Sunday, so someone's going to be wrong. Sigh... we'd check back tomorrow and see how things have panned out. At least Saturday's looking good according to everyone.
According to the Midge Forecast you can expect the usual horror around Glencoe, Fort William and Oban with other areas varying between 'negligible' and 'moderate'. As ever head east for fewer of the little blighters.
Have a good one.
Image - Cracking storm image from Cwm Glas by Nicholas Livesey from the OM Gallery. Hopefully it won'yt look quite like that this weekend...
Useful Weather Resources
Mountain Weather Information Service
Part funded by the Scottish Government, MWIS has detailed downloadable forecasts for all the major Scottish mountain areas plus the Lakes, Snowdonia and the Peak District / Yorkshire Dales. Includes wind, temperatures, visibility, precipitation and more. Can verge on the pessimistic and the combined Peak/Dales effort is a tad confusing at times, but a great resource for checking weather in the hills.
Met Office Mountain Forecasts
Another excellent weather resource as you'd expect from the Met Office. It has fewer Scottish areas than the MWIS version, but otherwise provides a similar level of detailed analysis and also scores by having individual Dales and Peak District sections plus coverage of the Brecon Beacons.
Lake District Weatherline
Run by the Lake District National Park, Weatherline - which can also be accessed by phoning 0844 846 2444 - carries the detailed Met Office Lakes mountain forecast all year round, but really comes into its own over the winter months when it features daily reports from a fell-top assesor who climbs Helvellyn every day and writes a report on snow and ground conditions on the high fells. Invaluable if you're heading out in winter conditions.
Met Office General Forecast
Does what it says on the can, but is well worth using both as a handy overview of the country as a whole and, for the detailed regional forecasts, particularly if you're heading to an area not covered by the mountain specialist sites. Well worth a browse if you have a general interest in meteorology as well for some of the wider ranging weather articles.
BBC Weather Pages
The BBC uses Met Office data, but presents the information quite differently. It's real plus point however, is the online iPlayer forecast which generally gives a useful overview of what's happening with animated graphics that even the densest viewer - us - can understand.
An alternative option for general forecasts, Metcheck still has a bit of a weather enthusiast vibe to it and you find detailed hourly forecasts for post-coded locations. It does have a tendency to disappear off the face of the web at times and also generates the odd bizarre data errror when models go awry, but they're usually pretty obvious - 200˚C temperatures and the like. Many of the original enthusiast features now appear to be dead.
Scottish Midge Forecast
Genius page also available as a smartphone app which uses midge monitoring stations for forecast the concentrations of the evil little blighters across Scotland during the peak midge months. In practice, Glencoe, Fort Willam and the Western Highlands cop the worst of it on a consistent basis, but if you're keen to avoid or at least get an idea of how bad things are likely to be, this is the site to visit. They're also behind the excellent Smidge repellent.
Scottish Avalanche Information Service
Avalanches are more common that you might think on Scottish hills and the SAIS provides excellent daily forecasts of avalanche conditions across five main Scottish mountain areas. Alongside those are blogs from the SAIS observers, often with recent photos which give excellent background to the actual reports. Bear in mind that snow conditions can change rapidly, so check the latest forecast before heading out. Also posted prominently in strategic local spots and available on your mobile.
Disclaimer Mountain weather and conditions are by their nature unpredictable, so while the forecast links above and our summary will give some idea of the outlook on the hills, things can change quickly, so you should always use them as a guide to what the weather may do rather than as a definite. Be aware too that conditions can vary massively between the valley bottom and the summits and dress and equip yourself accordingly.