Mountain weather summarised in English - this week, head north for the sunshine.
Weekend Mountain Weather Round-Up - May 19-20, 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
Sunshine... Dryness in Scotland, some patchy sunshine and light winds.
Dark Clouds... Still freezing up top, wind, rain, cloud south of the border.
If this is May, I'm a gerbil, as Michael Fish never said. The bad news if you're longing to strip off and frolic on sun-kissed summits, is that temperatures up high are still set to be unseasonably low. MWIS, for one, predicts anything from minus 2˚C in the gorms right through to a balmy 3˚ in the Lakes on Sunday.
As far as the rest of it goes, it's good news if you're north of the border where things are looking patchily bright, mostly dry and clear and with winds in the region of 15-20mph, but things get less lovely as you head south. Winds gusting to 50mph high up in the Lakes, Peak, Snowdonia and Dales may give some entertaining buffeting on narrow ridgelines while there may also be outbreaks of rain mixed in with some bursts of sunshine. MWIS says 'confidence is low' on the rain front, which means they're not sure, so it may not rain after all.
Weathermen eh? Annoyingly, the Met Office broadly agrees, 'cloudy with light rain' south of the border is their take. Still, it could be a lot worse. Our advice? Head for the Highlands.
Image - 'Sea of Clouds' by craigp - 'Wave of cloud flowing over the ridge where my tent was pitched. Viewed from the summit of Stob Ban, 23/08/2007' - that's what we call weather from the OM Gallery.
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.