There will be fair weather this weekend for much of the UK and an opportunity for a walk, hike even ski. Preparations for the cold, ice and lingering hill snow are needed, along with a keen weather eye.
This week’s cold weather with snow and ice will be easing off for the weekend. Glasgow and Belfast will be up to +9C although much of England and inland Wales will struggle at only 4 or 5C on Saturday. That’s still milder than the current -1C to +1C that many places have been experiencing during the week. The wind makes a huge difference to how it feels and if you are heading out this weekend remember the conditions can change quickly and certainly be colder if you are gaining height on your walk.
For some this weekend, it may be an easy local stroll to get some fresh air and sunlight. That might involve finding gloves and hats for everyone and a decision about wellies. Others might be drawn to the hills and mountains and the beauty of the recent snow.
For southern Britain, there is still too much water in places and ongoing flooding issues. This is from the heavy rain earlier in January, along the River Severn and for the Three Counties area with concerns for southern England where groundwater levels remain high.
Where the snow and ice lingers, experienced climbers, walkers and rescue teams are sharing their winter experience to educate (or remind) people about dealing with winter conditions before they head out in the next few days.
The key messages are to know your own limits and be realistic. There isn’t much daylight in January and yet the adventure of snow climbing or walking can be amazing. Have the correct equipment and skills. Look at the overall weather situation, not just a row of symbols for one location on a weather app. Keep an eye on the weather, the changing clouds and the wind as you go and be flexible and adapt your plans if needed.
Even down in a valley, in a glen, or on the north side of high ground there will be lingering ice and perhaps more snow. The lack of sunlight at this time of year can add to the chill in such places. On the other hand, sunnier spots will see melting snow and ice, which could lead to surface water issues. This mixture of conditions means there will be slippery ice and wet snow but also at a more extreme level, the danger of cornices, even the risk of avalanches.
“Cornices are overhanging masses of hard snow which build …They can grow several metres out from the edge of the mountain as the winter season progresses … What is important to understand is that all they are is snow, not solid ground, and if approached by the unwary they may just collapse, sometimes several meters away from the obvious edge.” Mountaineering Scotland
So what might look like flat, firm snow might be an overhanging icy precipice which would break off as walkers pass and threaten those below.
There have been reports this week of people out on snowy mountains in just trainers with no maps. Even if conditions at low levels look less wintry, up high it could be that ice axes and crampons are key. And what if you were delayed along the way, it’s worth taking a hat and gloves which can be stuffed in a bag if you do warm up when walking up hill, to really need them on a break or coming down the way in a cold wind.
Many places will have light winds this weekend thanks to rising pressure. However, Saturday sees fresh to strong southerly winds around the Irish Sea and for coastal Scotland, particularly the Outer Hebrides. Winds on Sunday will be lighter but with more cloud and patchy rain. That dampness will reduce the effect of any milder air which will be arriving for northern and western areas this weekend
Another reminder for those heading to the hills and mountains, your smart phone does not make you invincible. It is recommended to have a map and compass in your backpack just in case. And remember to let someone know your plans.
Are you going to have to remove gloves to use the screen, will the screen/ phone stay dry? Phone batteries really don’t like the cold so it is worth keeping your phone closer to your body, but then that creates issues when you need to check a route and use it.
Ground conditions for Snowdonia -Fine but cold on Saturday with increasing cloud on Sunday as the SSW wind picks up.
Scottish ski resorts
For those hoping to ski this weekend, conditions on Friday look super. At the weekend there will be a front edging in from the Atlantic with more cloud, more of a breeze and so windchill and also patchy rain/light hill snow in the west on Saturday. This spills across more of Scotland on Sunday, although not windy, just not the blue skies of Friday and some patchy precipitation.
Friday 20th It`s a beautiful day with lots of sunshine. Plenty of fresh wind-blown snow on all runs. All runs on the mountain are now complete and all uplift is able to run if required. 7 out of 8 lifts open.
We are expecting an incredible bluebird day on the hill! The temperature is going to be around -2 degree throughout the day with a windchill of -5 degrees. Conditions should be great for snowsports today, just a little chilly so wrap up warm! We have Alpha Button, Goose T-bar, Quad Chairlift and the Summit Button- OPEN! Excellent skiing whole hill especially on the Grooming.
Looking like it's going to be a fab day as per the forecast. We'll have 11 lifts running today so there will be plenty of capacity. Roads are fully open but watch for icy patches. 11 lifts open
Stunning conditions on the hill this morning! Lifts Operating: 4 of 13 available lifts All runs are complete with new snow.
Fresh snow across the mountain - great snow conditions on our open runs. There is some lovely pisted powdery snow around this morning Top car parks full . Looks like a nice day in prospect, currently light winds, -2.0c hill mist clearing gradually. Lots of fresh snow in the last couple of days so there will be some amazing snow sports on offer. Light winds and sunshine expected throughout the day. Enjoy.
More Scottish snow weather and Netweather forecasts here