The Snowiness of Decembers Past.

17th December 2023

The view up Aonach Mor. Not a huge about to see!

The Goose ski run. Not a powder day, but at least it was not too busy!

Another mild, windy and wet day with the freezing level well above the summits. As the picture above shows there is not a great deal of  snow remaining.  Early season conditions have always been a bit fickle in Scotland, but I did start wondering how unusual this little snow in the middle of December is. I decide to go back through the avalanche blog to get picture from the middle of December in previous years, and see how unusual this year is.  I found that the most consistent location for photos was on Ben Nevis, particularly looking up to around the Orion Face area (the only years I could not find pictures of this area was this year when there is almost no snow, and 2012). The pictures are shown below. The actual date of the pictures range from 10th to the 27th of December, and conditions can change quite rapidly. The actual locations of the photos is also quite variable. Nevertheless I would say these pictures give a good summary overall snow amount early season.

There is only one year that I would say there is a similar lack of snow as there is now, and that is 2016 (I seem to remember that 2005 was also very lean early season, but the blog does not go back that far). Other not very snowy Decembers were 2017, 2018 and 2022. The snowiest Decembers are 2011, 2009 and possibly 2012 (hard to compare for the latter due it being off a different part of the mountain).  From a quick look at this not short dataset it appears(I am sure how statistically significant this is) that it is getting less snowy in December. Does the amount of snow in December have any affect of that the rest of the winter is likely to be like, something I will try and have a look at on tomorrow’s blog.

14th December 2022

24th December 2021

15th December 2020

27th December 2019

19th December 2018

21st December 2017


20th Dec 2016

23rd Dec 2015

14th Dec 2014

18th December 2013

17th December 2012

10th December 2011

19th December 2010

26th December 2009

25th December 2008

17th December 2007

Comments on this post

  • Dan Goodwin
    18th December 2023 3:17 pm

    As a wise old guide in Fort William said to me once ‘never second guess a Scottish winter’ great to see those shots. Thanks for sharing!

    • lochaberadmin
      18th December 2023 4:09 pm

      Wise words (as you would expect from an old wise guide). Lets hope after this slow start winter gets going next week.

Got something to say? Leave a comment

    Latest Lochaber Avalanche Report
    Significant Mountain Hazards observed today
    RSS Feed
    Keep up to date by subscribing to our RSS feed
Service funded by sportscotland
Forecast data supplied by the Met Office
SAIS Sponsors