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Blizzards possible, but freezing rain risk!

This Report for the Scottish Highlands was issued at
20.08hrs Friday 14th December 2018.
There could be significant snow for some mountain areas later Saturday into Sunday accompanied by very high winds, however heaviest falls will be near a boundary between snow and freezing rain that could cause significant transport disruption!

The Warren Miller film tour returns to the road on Sun 6th Jan with the 69th ski film from WME - Explore http://warrenmiller.co.uk for dates and tickets.

The Lecht has had one or other of the magic carpets on the nursery slopes open daily this past week, alternating as the snow making continues. Full cover on the Robin and the Wren providing great areas for learning and particularly for little ones with all the facilities just seconds away in the Base Lodge. However strong winds forecast for Saturday, increasing substantially through the day and SE winds are prone to accelerating through the Lecht Pass, so could be problems even before the main frontal hill snow reaches later in the day.

Glencoe hope to reopen the Coire Pollach Tow with a 300m loop of machine made snow via the Plateau Cafe on the middle fork of Old Mugs Alley, but again check in the morning given the forecast though SE winds tend not to hit Glencoe full force! Sledging is also available just up from the Plateau Cafe providing the Access Chair can run.

A milder and windy day has seen some loss of the higher level natural snow cover, but there is the beginnings of a base at higher elevations particularly on CairnGorm where the Top Basin and Ciste Gully were complete.

There is an amber weather warning out for Saturday through Sunday which includes potential for blizzards on the hills, though there remains some uncertainty as to the boundary between snow and freezing rain. It is possible that some locations at elevation could see between 20 and 40cm of snow, but will it be somewhere useful for lift served snowsports. Any of the ski areas the wrong side of the divide could see significant ice build up which could lead to storm damage in the very high winds late Saturday afternoon. The freezing rain potential in areas of heavy rainfall creates a risk of laying down an ice base that could significant avalanche issues going forward as snow accumulates on top, certainly the extent of the freezing rain is something that needs to be watched.

At dusk on Friday the A939 and A93 were open over the Lecht and Cairnwell passes respectively but the snow gates are posted closed on the CairnGorm access road. There is potential for significant disruption and very dangerous travel conditions in parts of Scotland later Saturday into Sunday.

Both the Lecht and Glencoe were able to officially kick of the Scottish lift served season on Saturday 1st December, with Glencoe offering a 300m run on Old Mugs Alley from the Coire Pollach Tow, in both cases down to machine made snow from their respective snowfactories.

:: HIE retakes control of CairnGorm Mountain
Of course the big news in Scottish Snowsports this autumn has deepening shambles that is CairnGorm Mountain Ltd. Firstly with the funicular rarely running in September before HIE and CML went public on the scale of the issue at the start of October with the news that the Funicular was closed indefinitely. The subsequent collapse of CML into administration is though a blessing in not so much disguise, thankfully ending the catastrophic control of Natural Retreats.

On Friday afternoon HIE took control of operations from the administrators and CairnGorm Mountain's operator is once again in public ownership. HIE has given a commitment to fully honour all CML season passes sold to date, however it still remains to be seen if there will be any funicular operations this winter though it does seem unlikely.

Snow making has now commenced on the lower slopes of CairnGorm following an HIE investment of 1m pounds in snow making plant to attempt to mitigate the extent of the economic damage of the CairnGorm situation on the local communities. However had either the funicular been operating or there had been functioning chairlifts in Coire na Ciste CairnGorm Mountain would have already been open for lift served snowsports this season.

CML has failed twice in 10 years, the same strategy has been pursued to failure under 3 separate owners and 4 management regimes. The common theme through these has been HIE as landlord and infrastructure owner. It is our view that HIE ownership of the Cairngorm Estate is part of the problem and not part of the solution and that the Estate and non funicular infrastructure should be transferred to another public body asap pending potential transfer into community ownership.

This would put HIE in the normal role of a local development agency and provide a transparent level playing field for the four snowsports centres in HIEs geographic area, namely CairnGorm, Glencoe, Nevis Range and the Lecht.

:: Warren Miller Film Tour
If winter puts a smile on your face, it?s something you had in common with the late, great Warren Miller. This season don?t miss Warren Miller's Face of Winter , the 69th annual film from Warren Miller Entertainment. Visit some of Warren?s favorite locations, from Engleberg, Switzerland to Chamonix, British Columbia to Alaska, Chile, Iceland, New Zealand, Washington and more.

Watch world-class skiers like Jessie Diggins and catch big mountain athletes like Anna Segal, Dash Longe, Forrest Jillson, Amie Engerbretson, Seth Wescott, Jim Ryan, Marcus Caston and others as they carve down the faces of remote mountain ranges and come together to pay tribute to the man who started it all and celebrate a life lived in high places.

The tour goes back on the road after a festive break restarting in Edinburgh on Sun 6th January. Join us to continue the legacy this season and explore warrenmiller.co.uk for more.

:: Mid Summer Slide at Glencoe
Glencoe held a mid-summer ski and ride day on the Saturday just after the Summer Solstice (23rd June). Check out the photos in the Pix from the Slopes.

:: Mountain Forecast Discussion
Very severe mountain conditions are expected to develop through Saturday, with blizzard conditions for some mountain areas, but a risk of freezing rain encroaching from the South. Severe Gale force SE winds are expected to reach Hurricane Force with triple digit mean speeds possible on the Cairngorm Plateau.

Gusts in the region of 120 to 140mph are possible on North / NW downslope of the Cairngorm Plateau and triple digit wind speeds also likely through the Nevis Range mountains with the SE wind speed amplified in both locations by topographic effects. There could be marked and severe variances in wind speed over relatively small distances on Saturday, with the highest speeds late afternoon through the dusk period. Minus 5°c at Munro level, rising -2°c from the South, but in places little change in temperature with height as Munro temps rise producing a risk of potentially quite widespread freezing rain for parts of Scotland.

Wind speeds will drop markedly and perhaps abruptly on Sunday, but timing uncertain, with models ranging from post dawn to early afternoon, so check tomorrows forecasts for updates. Snow showers, but whiteout early on in the strong winds. Minus 1 to -2°c with the freezing level around 2000ft. SW 40 to 60mph but with gusts to 70 or 80mph first thing, becoming moderate later.

Sunshine and snow showers for Monday with a moderate South or SW wind and again around -2°c, best of brighter spells towards the North of the main ranges.

Early indications are for another deep Atlantic storm to track through on Tuesday bringing a spell of Storm Force or perhaps Hurricane Force winds to Highland mountains and a period of rain to all levels, before a cold front sweeps through lowering the freezing level to or below the lower slopes once more.

:: Club Fields
We will update on Club Field conditions as and when there is snow to report on. Find out more:

www.yadmoss.co.uk 01228 561634
ski-allenheads.co.uk 0191 5974 174
www.skiweardale.com 01388 317767
www.ldscsnowski.co.uk

:: Webcams and Weather Stations
Lowther Hill: Off grid Summit Camera and Leadhills Village Camera online.

CAIRNGORM: Aviemore Cams online. Loch Morlich Cam online.

GLENCOE: Intermittent power issue has been causing problems with some of the webcams. Weather permitting this will be investigated further over the weekend.

NEVIS: Front of mountain cams online. No mobile data at present at the Braveheart Drive,
Changes to the local mobile network infrastructure mean a change of operator will from early winter provide a more robust service to the Braveheart webcam and the equipment will be upgraded once the winter season is underway and the Gondola back in service.

tricky
Glencoe // Sat 1st Dec
>>>
Opening the season at Glencoe with Snowfactory snow!
Nevis Range // Fri 2nd Nov
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Early November tracks laid down from the Summit Runs. Front of mountain webcams now online.
Glencoe // Sat 23rd Jun
>>>
Kicker action on the Main Basin for the mid summer slide.
Glencoe // Thu 21st Jun
>>>
Andy laying out some solstice turns on the Spring Run. Mid Summer ski on Saturday, meet at the base cafe 9 to 9.30am.
Glencoe // Mon 7th May
>>>
Closing day at Glencoe to round off the 2018 Scottish Season. Weather / snow permitting, mid summer slide on Saturday 23rd June!
Glencoe // Sun 6th May
>>>
Come and get some of this! May Day Bank Holiday Monday is closing day for the 2018 season at Glencoe and last chance for lift served turns.
Glencoe // Sat 5th May
>>>
Saturday was the Macavalanche mass start MTB race. A sign the seasons are changing and there are just 2 days of lift served riding left for the 2018 Scottish Season. Forecast set fair, so get up Sunday and/or Monday!
Glencoe // Wed 2nd May
>>>
Looking like there will be some May freshies for the early birds on Thursday.
Northern Cairngorms Outlook
sun-snow-showers.png
Saturday 15th December
FL: 1000ft.  Snow Showers
914m: -5°c SE 100 gust 140mph
whiteout.png
Sunday 16th December
FL: 2000ft.  WhiteOut
914m: -1°c SW 50 gust 80mph
More... 
  17.51hrs Fri 14th Dec
West Highlands Outlook
whiteout.png
Saturday 15th December
FL: 1000ft.  WhiteOut
914m: -4°c SE 70 gust 110mph
sun-snow-showers.png
Sunday 16th December
FL: 2000ft.  Snow Showers
914m: -2°c SW 40 gust 60mph
More... 
  17.50hrs Fri 14th Dec