Very cold, but not for much longer.

13th February 2021

Covid -19

The Scottish Avalanche Information Service issues information to support permitted activity under current Scottish Government guidance.

Please be aware of current mandatory travel restrictions in Local Authority areas within Scotland and respect local communities by referring to Scottish Government guidance and safe route choices for exercise. For further guidance please refer to the following information for hillwalkers and climbers and snowsports on ski and board.

This blog is intended to provide hazard and mountain condition information to help plan safer mountain trips.

It was another very cold and very windy day. Having expected a slight rise in the temperature this morning and  was surprised to see that the summit temperatures were actually lower than the those last week. The midday day summit temperature was -11.0°C, the coldest value in the data set I have which goes back until the winter of 2007/08. However, the temperature did start to jump erratically upward during the afternoon.

It was also even windier than yesterday with regular gusts of 70mph at Tower 17. I decided to explore a different part of our patch, and headed up into the Grey Corries.  On the north flank of Stob Coire na Gaibhre a plantation extends up to 630 metres. I headed up that direction using the fence as a handrail (at times literally as well as metaphorically) and sometimes heading into the trees for some shelter.

The wee minister, a local celebrity that I passed on the walk in. 

The top of the plantation. At about 630 metres (slightly lower than the Nevis Range top station and the CIC hut) this is highest block of forestry in Lochaber. 

My snowpit in the shelter of the trees, this is the first time I have dug a snow pit in forested terrain in this country.  If it had not been for the howling wind, it would have felt quite alpine.  On the open and uniform hillside above the snowpack was very scoured with only older refrozen snow remaining. However, within the forest various layers of firm windslab had been deposited. The snow here was probably quite representative of the snowpack in sheltered spots at higher levels. 

A screen shot of the temperature and humidity output of the holfuy station the top of the quad chair at around 900m ( It was not working earlier in the winter, but has recently been fixed, and is a useful source of weather information. It is apparent that something changed around 8.30am this morning with temperature and humidity going from being very stable to very variable. Interestingly there was not concurrent change in wind speed or direction at this time The temperature rose very quickly in the early afternoon going from an unusually cold -9°C at 12.45 to -1°C at 14.30.

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