Avalanche Report for Torridon
Avalanche Hazard Forecast
FOR PERIOD 18:00 Sun 28/11/2021 TO 18:00 Mon 29/11/2021
Forecast Snow Stability & Avalanche Hazard
There will be considerable snow loss through the day, particularly at lower levels. Heavy thaw conditions, mainly during the afternoon, will heighten instabilities in existing localised areas of moderately well bonded windslab. Most affected will be on steep terrain, generally above 750 metres, East, through South to West aspects. Cornices above steep slopes on similar aspects will be prone to collapse. The avalanche hazard will be Moderate.
Forecast Weather Influences
Mild conditions are expected to move eastwards across the area with rain at all levels by midday, preceded by some summit sleet and snow early morning. The freezing level will quickly rise above the summits by daybreak from 450 metres overnight. Light Northerly winds will back South overnight, becoming a fresh to strong South-Westerly by first light, veering West later.
Expect a poor day with a wet, windy and cloudy afternoon. Snowpack stability will begin to improve by the end of the period.
Key Snow Stability Observations
Click on an icon for more detail about that hazard
Wet snow instabilities due to warm temperatures and/ or rainfall saturating the snowpack.
Developing instabilities in the early morning.
Cornices that may present a hazard due to collapse and/or providing an avalanche trigger.
Prone to collapse, developing from midday.
Observed Avalanche Hazard -
Observed Weather Influences
A largely dry day with good spells of sunshine. It remained cold at height as the freezing level hovered around 450 metres. A fresh, generally Northerly wind eased through the day.
Observed Snow Stability and Avalanche Hazard
There is generally a good cover of snow on wind sheltered aspects above 500 metres. Localised areas of moderately well bonded windslab persist on previously wind sheltered locations, mainly above 750 metres, on steep East through South to West aspects. Exposed windward aspects remain scoured. Significantly sized cornices observed atop same aspects. The avalanche hazard is Moderate.
Deep snow cover at mid levels - some exposed ridges scoured. Good visibility. Winds approximately 10 - 20 mph fresh and cooling. Feeling warm in direct sunlight.
The Torridon avalanche forecast Area
When producing daily avalanche forecasts for the Torridon region the whole area and summits as indicated on the map are considered by SAIS forecasters when writing their daily reports.
In the Torridon region the “core” forecast area primarily visited are the mountains and corries that surround Beinn Eighe and Liathach, then from Slioch in the North to Bhein Liath Mhor nr Loch Carron. Knowledge from the core area is applied to the more outlying mountains such as the Fannichs and the Applecross range, where field observations are carried out in turn as the winter progresses, or specific snowpack assessments are required.
Early Season Winter
A little snow has fallen on the mountains periodically over the last few days. Currently, there is a general shallow cover on all aspects above 300 metres, with some very localised shallow pockets of windslab in steep wind sheltered locations above 700 metres, mainly East through South to South-West aspects.High Pressure
The period began with an artic airflow, unseasonal cold temperatures and heavy snow showers down to all levels, the hazard was Moderate. For several days now the winds have turned with morning frosts in the glen leading to dryer, warmer weather and bright sunshine during the day. This has lead to a steady transformation of the diminishing snow pack with generally good stability. There are some remaining lingering localised instabilities on high and very steep NE to SE aspects. The hazard is Low.Winter Returns
This period was dominated by an unseasonably cold and strong Arctic Maritime airflow, feeding in frequent, sometimes heavy, snow showers on a NW to N wind. Localised areas of unstable windslab developed on steep sheltered terrain, predominantly NE to SE aspects at higher elevations, producing a Moderate avalanche hazard for most of the period. A brief mild spell today before the cold, showery NW airflow becomes re-established.Snow on the tops
We begun with moderate avalanche risk with the best snow cover above 800 metres. A rise in freezing levels and heavy rain led to a period of depletion with only patchy snow remaining on North to South-East aspects above 800 metres. The last days have seen a lowering of temperatures with ground frost and a dusting of fresh snow on the tops with a firmer snow pack and only shallow avoidable pockets of windslab forming on steep South through West to North-East aspects above 850m.Stable snowpack
The snowpack was generally stable throughout the period. Initially there were some wet snow instabilities on the steepest slopes but stability then improved during some melt freeze cycles. In the last two days there has been a dusting of fresh snow but accumulations have not been great enough to create a significant avalanche hazard. The snowpack is currently patchy and mostly above 650 metres.Thawing Snowpack
Strong South-Westerly winds and fresh snowfall in the first half of the period produced localised accumulations of unstable windslab, generally at higher elevations on steep North to South-East aspects. Later, as high pressure dominated and after a period of wet snow instability, the snowpack consolidated in the milder conditions. Currently, the snowpack is generally patchy, well bonded, stable, and thawing at all elevations.Colder weather returning.
The period started with several days of South-Westerly winds, dry conditions with warmer weather and a depleting snowpack. For the past few days it has been changeable with frontal systems bringing rain and snow, with freezing around summit levels, and further snow loss. Currently it has turned colder with fresh snow showers down to 600 metres. The existing snowpack is generally firm, stable and well bonded with fresh windslab accumulating on North to East aspects above 700 metres.Spring Snowpack
The thaw of last period continued into this week with continued snow loss, particularly at lower levels, and much bare ground. High pressure has dominated latterly with freezing levels lowering and firming up the snow in all locations. Currently, little to no snow exists below 500m., is patchy above with most snow remaining above 800m. on NW to NE aspects. The snowpack has been generally well bonded and stable throughout.Mild temperatures
The mild Southerly airflow has stayed with us for much of the period fluctuating between South-Easterly to the current South-Westerlies. Mainly the winds have been strong to gale force. Heavy rain showers with just occasional hill snow when the freezing level has intermittently dropped to below summit levels. Much of the snow has been stripped off, although reasonable cover remains in the higher cories. In general cornices have slumped and are generally stable. Some glide cracks are present.Thaw and Consolidation
This period was dominated by a strong to gale force, generally Southerly airflow and milder unsettled conditions starting last weekend with periods of rain, sleet and summit snow thereafter. Fluctuating freezing levels led to a diminished snowpack and a general consolidation. However, instabilities remained in areas of existing windslab and developed in new windslab, mainly on steep West to North-East aspects at higher elevations.Cold Easterlies Continue
The strong cold Easterly airflow persisted, accompanied by varying amounts of snowfall and snow redistribution. The winds reached gale force during the first part of the period with unstable windslab rapidly developing, which became more widespread by the middle of the week. Subsequent dry and sunny weather, but with very cold temperatures, has maintained weaknesses in the snowpack, predominantly South-West to North-West aspects above 700 metres. Windward areas remained stable.Easterly winds
This period we have had very low temperatures which have preserved some weaknesses within the snow pack. For several days now we have had strong to gale force Easterly winds with significant snow redistribution with windslab accumulating in SW to NW aspects above 650 metres. Currently heavy snow showers with the continuing East winds will give us widespread poorly bonded windslab. Cornices have developed and are fragile with underlaying weaknesses persisting on South and North aspects.Widespread Windslab
Changing wind directions from generally West initially to East latterly, combined with heavy snowfall at times led to accumulations of unstable windslab forming on many aspects predominantly at higher elevations. A considerable hazard during the first half of the period saw a number of cornice triggered small slab avalanches recorded. A short period of better stability followed, then snow redistribution on strong winds led to further windslab instabilities.North-West Airstream
Generally, we had South-Westerly winds at the start of the period with pockets of localised windslab instabilities remaining and some underlying weaknesses in the snowpack. We then had a slight thaw at lower levels which stabilised the older snowpack, however some isolated instabilities remained above the 850m level. Then Storm Christoph developed with a North-Westerly airstream, heavy hill snow, strong to gale winds, much cooler temperatures and currently, unstable windslab.Freeze-Thaw Cycle
The very cold and predominantly settled spell of last period ended with a significant thaw and heavy rain at all levels. Wet snow instabilities were short lived as freezing levels plummeted to low levels, generally consolidating the snowpack throughout. Subsequent snowfalls and fluctuating freezing levels have both seen depleted snow cover at lower elevations and windslab accumulations in various steep aspects at higher elevations.Deep Snow Cover
There has been relatively little change in the snowpack during this period, as high pressure maintained a predominantly cold, moderate to fresh Northerly airflow combined with light snow showers. The low temperatures maintained localised instabilities in steep areas of existing windslab, mainly at higher elevations, East to South aspects. Deep snow cover generally, but with some excellent crispy, sunny winter days.Increasing Festive Cover
The week has seen a significant increase of snow throughout the area. Cold over Christmas and accumulations gradually increased. Boxing Day was wet and windy at all levels causing some snow loss with a general stabilisation of the snowpack. It turned colder with a Northerly airstream bringing significant amounts of snow to valley level. Greatest accumulations are on East to South aspects. Hogmanay saw a brief rise in the freezing level but instabilities remain above 700m on these aspects.Improving Snow Cover
After early snow was reduced to bare mountains at the start of this period, snow returned on Sunday, albeit in small amounts. As the snowpack gained depth through the week, windslab with developing weaknesses accumulated in very localised steep sheltered lee areas around summit levels. Currently, snow level is around 300 metres due to a short cold spell.18.12.2020
The SAIS season started on 11th December. In our first blog that day we wrote that there was very little snow. There is less now. Only tiny patches remain. The weather during the week has been predominantly wet and windy with the freezing level above the summits most of the time. It does not look like winter here in Torridon.Summary Due December 17thGood Snow Cover
This period was dominated by wintry showers and strong winds. Accumulations of moderately bonded windslab formed throughout the period mainly at higher elevations, particularly on steep North to East aspects, whilst the snow cover diminished at lower levels with the snowline currently around 500 metres. Largely due to settled weather, the snowpack is consolidating with generally good stability.Wintry again
At first there were weaknesses within the snow pack. A rise in the freezing level put pay to this, then we had a period of wet snow instabilities with some avalanche activity, some triggered by fragile cornices. Since then we have had cooler temperatures with the snow pack becoming generally more frozen improving stability. Lately the winds have been variable with snow redistribution, cross loading and snow showers. Currently we have a Northerly airstream with moderate bonded windslab.Warm then cold
There was a significant thaw Friday/Saturday resulting in some avalanche activity. Then a return to colder conditions with snow showers and wind transportation resulting in fresh instabilities which still remain above 750m. Elsewhere the snowpack is consolidating. Exposed snow slopes at higher elevations are frozenCold with Wintry Showers
Following a short sharp thaw last Friday and a general consolidation thereafter, wintry showers persisted throughout the period, with fresh snow to low levels at times due to low freezing levels. Unstable windslab accumulated on Easterly aspects in the strong, generally Westerly airflow. Snow showers and an East wind on Monday encouraged unstable windslab to accumulate onto West aspects also. Windward aspects are scoured and icy in places.Multiple Freeze-Thaw Cycles
Last weekend, Storm Dennis brought very windy and mild conditions with rain and a heavy thaw at all levels. Thereafter, there has generally been a cold, strong South to West airflow bringing frequent wintry showers, interspersed with short mild spells. Unstable windslab accumulated in steep sheltered areas interspersed with periods of consolidation. Currently, there is good snow cover above 500 metres.Wintry again
The period started with limited snow cover. Windslab has gradually developed throughout the week during successive storm cycles, mainly on North, through East to South aspects above 650 metres.Limited Snow Cover
More of the same this period; relatively strong South-West winds, limited fresh snowfall with localised pockets of windslab developing at higher elevations, followed by freeze thaw cycles leading to rapid consolidation of the snowpack. The hazard level was generally Low throughout. Most snow remains above 800 metres on steep North to East aspects. Generally bare ground below 650 metres.A Colder Period
The limited, patchy but stable snowpack continued from last period into the weekend, after which colder conditions prevailed with periods of snow, occasionally down to low levels. A strong South to West airflow persisted throughout the period and areas of unstable windslab accumulated in steep high locations, mainly on North to East aspects. Latterly, mild and wet conditions have returned.Diminishing Snowpack
The snowpack has been limited throughout the period due to mild weather dominating. At the start of the period localised windslab formed on North to South-East aspects above 850 metres. Since then the diminishing snowpack has consolidated and thawed. There is currently limited snow cover with most snow existing in gullies, core rims and ridge flanks on North to South-East aspects above 850 metres.Storm Brendan Snow
Very strong winds and short periods of snowfall followed by thaw has characterised this period. Storm Brendan had a big influence mid period with snow down to low levels, significant areas of moderately bonded windslab at higher elevations combined with storm force South-West winds scouring wind exposed areas. Currently, there is a much depleted snow cover due to a heavy thaw.Wintry again
The hills were almost bare of snow at the start of this period but winter has returned with snow cover from around 450m up to the summits. A series of Low pressure systems has affectively being dominating our weather. The bulk of our snow is above 700m and much of this has fallen onto bare ground although there were some patches and ribbons of older snow pack along wind sheltered crests and around some coire rims. Currently we have a Low hazard with shallow instabilities on NE to S aspects.Virtually a Snow Free Landscape
The prolonged mild conditions continued through this period. Currently, there is very little old snow remaining in the Torridon forecast area. Unsettled weather with strong, generally Southerly winds, periods of heavy rain and very high freezing levels contributed to the continuing snow loss.The Thaw Continues
The snowpack remained generally well consolidated and Low hazard throughout the period. With the freezing level hovering around the summits, the snow cover remains limited and relatively patchy above 650 metres with a thin covering of newer snow above 850 metres. A slow thaw continues at lower elevations but quite firm at summit levels,Mild again
We begun with good snow cover down to around 350 metres which was generally well bonded and stable. Then we had more snow on ESE then NW winds which built wind slab onto scarp slopes on high coire rims and gully tops. These areas of wind slab were quite small but they were laying on weaker layers, we also had an interesting temperature gradient within the snowpack which pushed us into a Moderate risk. Last night we had a high freezing level so the snow pack has depleted and the Hazard is now LowThe Snow Returns
Currently, cold conditions, strong winds and frequent wintry showers are producing small areas of moderately well bonded windslab in steep wind sheltered locations, particularly at higher elevations. Otherwise, the general snow cover is shallow and stable on all aspects, with greatest older snow accumulations along selected ridge crests, coire rims and in gullies. The main snowline has hovered around 400 metres.Patchy Spring Snow
After the weaknesses observed in last week's new snowfall, the snowpack consolidated by the weekend as mild weather dominated. There has been a slow thaw at all elevations since and currently, the snowpack is very patchy, continues to thaw and remains stable throughout. Areas of exposed old snow are firm. Very little snow exists below 650 metres and many tops, summit slopes and ridges are bare.Wintry again
The period began with milder conditions and a generally well bonded snow pack. Since then winter has returned with a cooler North-Easterly airflow which brought wintry showers and gale force winds. There is now good snow cover with more snow inland to the east. There are some deep snow pack weaknesses and some areas of moderately bonded wind slab. These instabilities are mainly on high coire rims, scarp slope and gully tops. There has been some cornice growth and these are fragile.Thawing Snowpack
A brief period of snowfall over the weekend led to isolated areas of moderately well bonded windslab, mainly above 800 metres on Easterly aspects.. The snowpack subsequently quickly consolidated with a return to mild conditions due to a persistent warm, moist and strong South-Westerly airflow. Currently, the snowpack is patchy, thawing at all levels and little snow remains below 650 metres.Diminishing Snowpack
Significant snowfall over the weekend with drifting in strong winds led to considerable windslab instabilities. The snowpack subsequently quickly consolidated with the onset of very mild conditions, during which a cornice triggered wet slab avalanche was recorded. Currently, the snowpack is much depleted and thawing at all levels and little snow remains below 650 metres.Wintry at Higher Elevations
The general snowpack remained shallow and slowly thawed at lower levels throughout the period. However, accumulations of moderately well bonded windslab continued to build at higher elevations mainly on North to South-East aspects with greatest snowpack instability occurring last weekend during a longer period of snowfall with accompanying gales.Snow Returns
The very mild spell continued for the first half of the period reducing the snowpack to isolated patches of thawing snow, mainly above 750 metres. Periods of fresh snowfall from Monday onwards with a generally shallow covering above 600 metres. Instabilities developed in isolated pockets of windslab, on steep slopes at higher elevations, on various aspects due to changeable wind directions.Very Limited Snow Cover
Generally little change in the well consolidated and stable snowpack throughout the period which continued to thaw at all levels becoming very patchy throughout. Currently, most snow patches remain above 750 metres along coire rims and higher summit slopes, mainly North to East aspects.The Thaw Continues
The snowpack continued to thaw and steadily diminish through the period and is currently very patchy, generally well consolidated with good stability. Most snow remains above 800 metres with the odd patch at 600 metres. Of note, there was a brief cold period at the start of the week with a transient cover of wet snow above 800 metres.Diminishing Snowpack
Although there was good snow cover at the start of the period and some minor fresh windslab development, subsequent heavy thaw conditions at all levels has much reduced the snowpack with the snowline around 600 metres. Some cornice triggered wet slab avalanches were noted. Currently, the patchy snowpack is generally well consolidated and stable throughout.Full Winter Conditions
Deep snow cover at all levels on most aspects and cold conditions dominated most of the period. Snowfall and much re-distribution of soft dry snow produced unstable windslab, initially Southerly aspects, then East to North-Westerly and Northerly aspects. Several, mainly cornice collapse triggered slab avalanches recorded. Latterly, low level snow loss and general snowpack consolidation due to minor thaws.A week of two extremes
The period started very warm and very wet with a patchy limited snowpack. This was followed by a day of heavy snow and very strong Northerly winds. There were then three days of Westerly winds and snow showers and finally a dry day with light South-Eastrely winds. All the snow fell to low levels giving soft unconsolidated snow at low levels and windslab on sheltered aspects higher up. Fragile cornices above North-East to South-East aspects.Looking like winter
The period started cold and dry with light winds and a thin cover of snow at all levels; windslab instabilities were limited. On 21 Jan strong Southerly winds redistributed snow, forming windslab in sheltered mainly N to E aspects. Then for the rest of this period light SW or W winds with snow showers; freezing at all levels overnight, rising to around 400m during the day.Becoming more like winter
Mild conditions persisted throughout most of the week with some snow on the higher tops which disappeared as successive warm fronts passed through. A cold front on Wednesday saw snow to all levels with some fairly deep accumulations particularly on South to East aspects above 700 metres. Although there are variable amounts of snow accumulation round the hills of Torridon with the hills more to the west receiving less.Lack of Snow
The unseasonal mild weather persisted through this period with what limited snow patches there were depleting further. Any fresh snow cover was merely a dusting and quickly thawed as temperatures predictably rose above the summits. Very limited and small patches of old snow remain on sheltered summit slopes. Most hills are free of snow.Depleting snow pack
The period started with freezing levels which were well above the summits. This mild period stripped most of the snow leaving just a few isolated patches of generally well bonded stable snow patches on high ground. Mid-period we have had lower temperatures with a dusting of snow on the higher summits however much of that new snow has thawed in the last 24 hours although the freezing level is still hovering around the 950 metre level. Inland areas to the East are holding more older snow patches.Depleting snow pack
The period began with isolated patchy snow cover above 850 metres which was generally well bonded and stable. Then a South-West airflow pushed in bringing warmer temperatures. There has been heavy rain showers to above summit levels. This milder weather has persisted with the snow pack depleting further, many areas of the hill are bare of snow.Very Limited Snow Cover
This period ended as it started - mostly bare hills and Low hazard throughout! The only significant accumulation of fresh snow was during the weekend, with snow cover above 500 metres and isolated areas of shallow windslab around summit levels. This was quickly followed by thawing conditions combined with very strong winds and heavy rain above the summits. leaving a much depleted snowpack; patchy at summit levels.Updated Thursday 20th December
Updated Thursday 20th December
The snowpack gradually consolidated as small localised areas of windslab on most aspects above 700 metres, stabilised. Thereafter, the slowly thawing snowpack has remained stable and generally firm throughout, becoming very patchy at lower levels with reasonable cover above 700 metres. Spring conditions have affected large unstable cornices and glide cracks are appearing on some steep terrain.
A generally Easterly airflow brought a return to colder conditions with periods of wintry showers, some heavy and blustery and fresh snow to low levels at times. Accumulations of moderately well bonded windslab developed, mainly on South to North-West aspects at higher elevations and persisted due to the cold temperatures. Large cornices exist above steep slopes on similar aspects. Due to become much milder through the next period.
Spring arrived along with high insolation levels which mostly affected Southerly aspects where large bare areas exist. The general snowpack remained firm and stable, but Atlantic fronts brought periods of snow and small accumulations of windslab mainly on Easterly aspects. Latterly, an Easterly airflow has brought stable weather and snowpack conditions. Good snow cover remains above 650 metres mostly on North to East aspects.
There has been a generally stable and consolidated snowpack at all elevations and aspects during this last period, maintaining a Low avalanche hazard throughout. Some overall snow loss has occurred, particularly during the previous two days of heavy thaw and mainly at lower levels. However, reasonable and generally firm snow cover persists above 650 metres, most notably on the more inland mountains.
There has been a consolidation of the snowpack throughout this period, with only a dusting of fresh snow at times and consequently, the snowpack has good stability on all aspects and at all elevations. Remaining firm at higher levels, although some surface softening noted during spells of milder weather. The snowpack is thawing at lower levels and becoming patchy. Reasonable snow cover remains above 650 metres.
As last period, most of this week was dominated by a strong and cold Easterly airflow. Fresh snow amounts were very localised, with the more inland and Northern mountains seeing more extensive areas of moderately bonded windslab developing, whilst other mountains only localised pockets. Latterly, the winds have turned more Southerly and milder with fresh snow and windslab developing above 600 metres on sheltered lee slopes. Good amounts of ice developed on all aspects.
High pressure has dominated the last week with a generally fresh Easterly airflow producing cold and clear conditions and freezing to low levels. The snowpack continued to refreeze becoming firm and stable throughout. Latterly, snow showers pushed across the area from the east with accumulations of moderately bonded windslab developing, mainly on the more inland mountains with isolated pockets of windslab on coastal mountains.
Initially remaining cold with heavy snow showers on a generally strong Westerly airflow maintained a Considerable avalanche risk with accumulations of unstable windslab on many aspects, coupled with rapid cornice growth. A brief and significant thaw on Sunday to Monday saw widespread cornice triggered avalanches, both single point and wet slab. Currently, a return to colder conditions has consolidated and stabilised the snowpack, with a Low avalanche hazard.
This period has been dominated by a cold and generally showery South-Westerly to Westerly airflow with strong and occasionally storm force winds. Significant accumulations of unstable windslab has accumulated on North through East to South-East aspects at higher elevations and persisting due to the cold temperatures. Cornices have become large and fragile in places. Wind exposed terrain is scoured.
A week of changeable wind directions with a colder air mass from a Northerly direction and then slighter milder air from the South. As a result the freezing level fluctuated between sea level and briefly up to 800 metres. Most of the precipitation has fallen as snow on the mountains and with the variable wind directions there has been a redistribution of snow round the mountain slopes. Wednesday night saw a change with the introduction of milder air and subsequent consolidation of the snowpack.
There were several freeze thaw cycles through the first half of the period with rain at all levels at times, leading to a well consolidated and stable if not depleted snowpack. Colder conditions returned on Monday with wintry showers and a strong to gale force North-West to Northerly airflow persisting through the week. Accumulations of moderately bonded windslab have developed in wind sheltered locations.
We began with a Considerable Avalanche hazard, then a period of good weather stabilised the snow pack. Storm Georgina blasted through with milder air and gale force winds which depleted the snow pack at lower levels. Currently we have good snow cover above 550-600 meters with the older snow pack generally stable. Snow redistribution and new heavy snow showers with fresh variable winds is building windslab above 800 metres and some of this new windslab overlays a sometimes buried breakable crust.
The period started with several melt freeze cycles and a generally stable snow pack, then the country received a blast of cold polar air with strong generally North - West winds and heavy snow showers. It is very wintry now with several days of heavy snow fall and a low freezing level. Winds have been West to South - Westerly for the last few days and above 650 metres we have wind slab and several weak layers with a strong temperature gradient within the snow pack. Avalanche Hazard Considerable.
Winds mainly from an Easterly direction, over the last week, with some superb days and great visibility. Cycles of freeze and thaw have led to consolidation of the snowpack which is now generally stable on all aspects. Ice has also continued to build but with the sunny weather there has been a risk of falling ice on south facing slopes. The snow level has risen to around 450 metres and although thin in places there remains good cover, above this altitude.
Colder temperatures combined with moderate to heavy snow showers during the week has resulted in the hills looking very wintry with some areas of deep snow particularly at mid levels. The snowpack has generally stabilised although there are still some very localised areas of windslab in sheltered locations on South-West to North-East aspects above 800 metres. Fluctuating freezing levels has led to some ice build up although it is still on the thin side.
The period started with thaw conditions and a much depleted snow pack with only patches of snow remaining above 600m. A colder Northerly airstream approached just before christmas, lower temperatures re-froze the isolated snow patches to firm as fresh snow fell. Since then we have had several low temperature days with moderate to heavy snow showers on moderate to strong North or North -Westerly winds. Windslab has developing on sheltered lee slopes above 600m with cornice growth on corie rims.
Prior to the SAIS forecasting season, a cold North to North-Westerly airstream combined with frequent snow showers meant that there was a fair bit of snow about with some heavy drifting taking place. Just after SAIS forecasting started the temperatures went very mild (13 degrees in Torridon village). Accompanied by periods of rain to all levels the snowpack is now much depleted. There are reasonably large areas of snow above 600m which are stable but many areas are completely clear of snow.
The Weekly Snowpack Summary for Torridon will be updated on Thursday 21st December 2017
The snowpack has remained generally shallow and latterly become very depleted, wet and patchy above 800 metres, although well bonded and stable. High pressure dominated most of the period with mainly cool clear sunny days and some fine cloud inversions. As a consequence, minor weaknesses in the snowpack persisted until the milder conditions arrived, enabling the snowpack to consolidate. Spring conditions prevail.
The avalanche hazard has remained moderate throughout the period. Most snow has existed at higher levels, deposited in cycles of heavy showers and strong to gale force, generally westerly winds. Poorly bonded windslab has persisted mainly on North through East to South-East aspects above 750 metres, but generally in localised steep sheltered areas. Lately, high pressure conditions have dominated, with cold and clear weather maintaining minor weaknesses in the windslab.
Mild conditions have prevailed throughout the period. From having good cover initially, the snowpack has since thawed, becoming patchy and gradually diminished until most hillsides and many summits and summit ridges are bare. Greatest accumulations of snow remain on North to East aspects above 800 metres. Latterly, it has turned more wintry with snow showers and pockets of windslab developing.
There has been a gradual build up of the snowpack over the past week. Due to changing wind directions as weather fronts quickly passed through, most aspects were affected at some point by accumulations of moderately bonded windslab, mostly above 700 metres. Deep drifts and significant cornices were developing by the beginning of the week. Latterly, a strong and showery, but relatively mild Westerly airflow has prevailed and sun induced activity has been noted.
The period started with a very patchy snow pack. Heavy snow showers fell over the weekend and since then it has remained cold. Variable winds and cold temperatures on the relatively shallow snow pack have left underlaying instabilities on most high aspects above 750 metres. There are some extensive areas of wind slab, cross loading and fragile cornices on North - East through to South aspects.
The avalanche hazard remained low throughout the period. The patchy and depleted snowpack continued to thaw at all levels with most remnants of snow on North to East aspects above 750 metres. By midweek, most hillsides and summits were bare. However, by the end of the period, there is a few centimetres of fresh snow on all aspects above 300 metres, most snow falling during 'Storm Doris'.
A very cold and dry Polar Continental airflow dominated most of the period, with mainly sunny and calm conditions and a widespread surface hoar. The cold temperatures and a shallow snowpack maintained localised instabilities which gradually diminished as the snowpack later consolidated. The Easterly wind strengthened with some summit cloud before a mild and wet Westerly airflow became established midweek and a greatly reduced but stable snowpack.
The long awaited snow arrived over the weekend of 3rd to 5th accompanied by strong South-East to South-West winds, with accumulations of moderately well bonded windslab mainly on West through North to East aspects above 700 metres. Other aspects were mainly scoured. From Tuesday onwards, with a generally settled South-East airflow, the snowpack remained shallow and slowly diminished, but weaknesses persisted in isolated pockets of the old windslab.
At the start of the period, it continued dry with a very limited and patchy snowpack, firm and well bonded. Fresh snowfall over the weekend left a general dusting mainly above 700 metres. However, as a mild and moist generally Southerly airflow became established, by midweek, the new snow had thawed, leaving the old and patchy snowpack re-exposed and remaining moist but firm and well bonded.
The avalanche hazard remained low throughout the last week. It was generally mild with insignificant amounts of precipitation and the limited and patchy snowpack quickly became well bonded and stable. By the end of the period, the snowpack was reduced to remnant patches and strips, mainly above 800 metres on East to South aspects. Most hills are bare of snow.
At the beginning of this period we enjoyed good snow cover which in the strong winds drifted on to mainly North - East to South aspects forming localised unstable windslab. After this a milder South - Westerly airflow brought milder temperatures and heavy rain. The past two days have been dry resulting in a now depleted snow pack which is quite patchy and lays mainly on North - East to South aspects above 700 metres. A cooler air mass is approaching which will firm up the generally stable snow.
The period started with warm conditions and a limited slowly melting snowpack. Since Monday there have been strong winds, from between South-West and North-West, and snow showers. This has led to localised deposits of snow mainly in sheltered locations on North-East to South-East aspects.
We had variable conditions at the start of the period with some very strong winds and snow showers over the New Year period. Since then the freezing levels went high to rise above or just around summit levels. Since Sunday it has been cold and dry with a dusting on new snow on the higher summits. The remaining rather patchy snow pack which is mainly on North through East to South aspects is now well bonded and frozen hard.
Initially snow cover was lean. Then wild weather brought some snow cover. Over the Christmas period storm Barbara gave us more wild weather with unstable windslab building on North - East to South - East aspects however no avalanches were recored. Since then Southwesterly winds, high freezing levels and heavy rain have striped much of the snow with only ribbons and banks of well bonded snow remaining on high corrie rims and steep lee aspects on North to South - East aspects above 700 metres.
After an inauspicious start to the forecast season, with a snowless landscape, winter arrived overnight on 19/20th with a light dusting of snow above 450 metres. This heralded a cold showery airflow from the west along with gale force winds. The wintry showers become more frequent and intensified, with an occasional rumble of thunder. By the end of the period, significant accumulations of unstable windslab developed on steep lee slopes.
A diminishing spring snowpack with limited snow cover on Northerly to Easterly aspects above 750 metres. Spells of new snow presenting a wintry scene at the highest levels during the week leading to limited instabilities, otherwise the snowpack has been stable in most areas. Glide Cracks in deeper accumulations on steep East aspects have continued to widen due to snow creep.
A diminishing snowpack with limited snow cover but with new snow presenting a wintry scene during the week. New snow accumulations at the highest levels have presented limited instabilities, otherwise the snowpack has been stable in most areas. New snowfall on the first day of April at high levels will present short term moderate instability.
For the first part of the period high pressure dominated the area and the spring snow pack while diminishing was generally stable. New snow began to arrive mid week above 700 meters on a strong South -Westerly airflow. The cooler weather is to remain for a while with some heavy showers forecast. Windslab instabilities will build above 800 metres with cornices rebuilding around coire rims. Some wet snow instabilities will be present in the diminishing snow pack down to around 600 metres.
High pressure conditions have dominated this period with mild temperatures and dry and mostly sunny from Sunday onwards. The thaw initially affected deep instabilities in the snowpack, combined with collapsing cornices and falling ice. Thereafter, the patchy and diminishing snowpack consolidated and stabilised at all levels. Latterly, surface wet snow instabilities have developed on steep sun exposed slopes.
The snowpack gradually consolidated over the first half of the period, with a widespread surface crust. It was firm and icy on aspects exposed to the prevailing wind, particularly on summits and summit ridges. At the start of the week, new poorly bonded windslab developed on North through North-East to South East aspects and persisted through the week, although it was generally shallow and localised. There is a good snow cover above 500 metres.
High pressure weather conditions at the start of this period produced numerous sun induced single point avalanches on southerly aspects. By contrast, in the shade, -9C was recorded at the snowpack surface, but generally there was a good widespread snow cover. A short thaw followed producing unstable snowpack conditions with noticeable collapsing cornices. A re-freeze and fresh unstable windslab developed on steep North To South-East aspects. Latterly, deep instabilities have persisted.
This period started with heavy snowfall and a short sharp thaw which resulted in wet slab avalanches and collapsing cornices. Cold conditions returned quickly and heavy snow showers accompanied by gale force Westerly winds produced areas of deep unstable windslab mainly on Easterly aspects. The snow showers continued, sometimes heavy, on a North-Westerly airflow with widespread poorly bonded windslab developing on East to South aspects. Latterly, there is good snow cover on most aspects.
A cold and strong Easterly airflow dominated the first part of this period. Significant snow redistribution onto South-West to North-West aspects produced localised areas of unstable windslab. Over the weekend, the old snowpack became firm and stable with areas of snow ice on exposed slopes. Latterly, strong to gale force South-West winds accompanied by periods of snowfall has produced areas unstable windslab on North to East aspects. Generally good snow cover above 500 metres.
By the end of this period, a good general cover of snow exists on all aspects above 600 metres. After a couple of freeze thaw cycles, by midweek and with a showery North-West airflow, accumulations of moderately well bonded windslab developed on North-East to South aspects above 650 metres. Latterly, areas of unstable windslab have developed on South-West to North-West aspects due to snow redistribution. Areas of firm snow-ice also exists on exposed slopes.
The greatest influence on the weather and snowpack in this period was Storm Henry; unseasonably mild conditions, periods of heavy rain at all levels and storm force winds (generally from Western directions) interspersed with snowfalls. The snowpack has been reduced to stable patchy wet snow, followed by re-freeze and localised unstable windslab accumulations with obvious graupel layers. Latterly, unstable windslab is evident on North, through East to South aspects above 650 metres.
The main theme for the last week was thaw, closely followed by rain and gales. Several freeze thaw cycles over the period did not result in significant deposits of fresh snow. Cosequently, there was a net loss of snow, with a sparse, wet, but stable old snowpack. By the end of the period the mountains were virtually bare of snow. Winter returned with a vengeance on the last day with fresh unstable windslab accumulations on North to East aspects.
Through much of this period the winds have been light, occasionally moderate, generally South-Easterly. It has been cold with light snow showers at most levels. Mainly localised windslab formed above 800m with South-West through West to North aspects most affected. This pattern changed on Wednesday when the freezing level rose to around 800m and on Thursday to around the summits, with associated moistening of the surface of the snowpack.
A ridge of high pressure moved in last weekend heralding a cold, dry, relatively clear period and the extent of previous heavy riming was apparent as the Easterly airflow eased and cleared. Pockets of unstable windslab remained high up on both Easterly and Westerly aspects. Latterly, a cold more showery North West airstream produced further accumulations of unstable windslab on East to South aspects above 800 metres. Little snow below 600 metres.
After a relatively wintry start to the year, very mild weather returned on the 2nd with rain at all levels and a diminishing snowpack. After, a cold and strong Easterly airflow became established delivering patchy light snowfall, but not significantly adding to the snowpack. By the end of the period, light snowfall with South-Westerly winds saw very localised accumulations of fresh windslab develop high up on North to East aspects.
Some exceptionally mild and frequently very wet weather, interspersed with overnight snowfalls (most notable pre Christmas and on December 26th), has resulted in a net loss of snow over the period. The fresh snowfalls generally melted quickly. The limited old snowpack is now refrozen, firm and stable, and on Northerly aspects above 850 metres. The most recent light snowfall lies on most aspects above 800 metres.
24/12/15. The start of the period saw very little snow cover with small patches restricted mainly to Easterly aspects above 850 metres on the Eastern most mountains. Except for a short lived dusting on the 21st, the first snow arrived on the 23rd and continued the next day. Small pockets of windslab developed in localised areas with a North to North East aspect above 800 metres, with a blanket of snow above 300 metres.
The record breaking high temperatures this week have stripped the hills more or less completely of snow.
Warm conditions over the past week has stabilised the snowpack and a slow thaw has resulted in a much diminished snow cover. The snowpack is soft in the surface layers, but compact and dense nearer the ground. Colder conditions (Saturday 11th) will stabilise the snowpack further, but some new windslab will be deposited in localised areas.
The last weekend of March was very mild seeing a huge reduction in snow cover. Quieter weather early in the week saw a well bonded snow pack. Wednesday was a return to winter with heavy snow at all levels on West to North West winds. Thursday was a blue sky day with avalanche activity, an unstable snowpack on Easterly aspects, poorly bonded layers of graupel deep within the new windslab. Temperatures then rose seriously depleting the snow cover at lower levels but stabilising it higher up.
The early part of the week saw stable weather and a stable but diminished snowpack. Greatest cover was on Easterly aspects above 750 metres. Wednesday and Thursday brought significant new snow on strong winds down to 500 metres. Thursday night and Friday saw avalanche activity on Easterly aspects before a rapid thaw accompanied by heavy rain followed on Saturday. The temperatures then dropped as yet more new snow arrived from the west.
A mild and very wet start to the period produced many wet snow avalanches. By Monday the snowpack was much diminished. A period of stormy freeze thaw cycles midweek did not result in a significant amount of new snow accumulation. The snowpack was becoming stable again. High pressure dominated by the end of the week further stabilising the snowpack and giving fine settled weather conditions.
A week of two contrasting halves. The start of the period saw frequent wintry showers down to low levels on generally South-South-West to Westerly winds adding to the snowpack particularly on North-East to East aspects. Wednesday saw a fine and brief interlude before a very wet, very mild and very windy end to the week with rapid snow melt and wet snow avalanches observed before the snowpack became more consolidated. Colder on Sunday.
The start of the period saw the existing snowpack topped up with snow showers interspersed with longer periods of snow on strong to gale force South-West to North-West winds and cold temperatures. The temperature rose dramatically on Wednesday and Wednesday night with rain to all levels but quickly dropped again on Thursday with fresh snow down to 300 metres. By Friday there were significant localised areas of unstable windslab on North to East aspects.
A generally diminishing snowpack throughout the week. There was a freeze/thaw cycle at the beginning of the week with milder temperatures during the day. Wednesday was a very wet, very windy and very mild day and a lot more snow and ice disappeared. Colder conditions with light snow showers down to 750m and strong South-Westerly wind arrived Wednesday night. These have deposited some fresh windslab in very sheltered locations on North-West to East aspects.
The week say several cycles of freeze thaw. The combination of the sun and milder temperatures have significantly depleted the snow cover. There has been no new snow this week. The cover is most extensive on East to South East aspects. Overall the snow is generally well bonded but with localised instabilities on steep terrain on shaded aspects. Falling ice was observed later in the week.
After the extensive snow accumulation from last weekend's storms, mainly on NE to SW aspects, the beginning of the period was more settled, but with a smattering of snow showers adding to the snowpack on all aspects. By Wednesday, high pressure became established bringing milder and cloudy conditions to the NW with little in the way of precipitation. Snow melt at lower levels and with the freezing level hovering around the summits by the end of the period, the snowpack is consolidating.
Sunday 25th January saw a rise in freezing level to above the summits. The mild weather continued through Monday with rapid depletion of the snow cover. Falling temperatures then refroze the snowpack which became stable. Midweek saw significant snow to sea level in light winds. Heavy falls of snow on Northerly winds later in the week and weekend added considerably to the cover. Deep accumulations of poorly bonded snow on many aspects. Natural avalanche activity observed on South aspects.
Cold stable weather during the week. Strong temperature gradient in the snowpack with facets developing. A lot of graupel evident throughout the snowpack. Towards the weekend cycles of freeze thaw. Exposed ridges and aspects exposed to the wind scoured. Greatest snow accumulations on North East to South East sheltered aspects. large build up of ice on most aspects.
The snowpack has been steadily added to over the period, particularly on Easterly aspects. Snow showers from the South West led to a more intense period of snow to all levels on Wednesday accompanied by strong winds. A mild spell followed with rain to summit level. By the end of the period, a cold westerly airflow brought in frequent blustery snow showers, mainly of hail and graupel, which led to unstable conditions higher up.
The freezing level has been above the summits several times as well as to valley level this week. A net loss of snow. Main feature of the week has been Westerly winds gusting in excess of 130 mph. Stormy weather. Ridges and areas exposed to the West scoured. Heavy drifting, much of this settling at lower levels and melting. Precipitation often rain at all levels, a lot of hail and graupel evident in high sheltered locations.
A heavy thaw midweek considerably reduced the extent of the snow and reduced earlier instabilities in the snowpack that were there over the weekend. Patchy wet snow remains that is generally stable and firm underfoot. Colder temperatures over the next days will freeze the existing snow and new unstable windslab will develop.
The middle of February saw more build up of snow above 400 metres. Continued precipitation combined with freeze thaw cycles have led to a depletion of the snowpack at lower levels but an ever increasing build up at higher levels.
The cycles of melt freeze have contributed to a well consolidated snow pack with isolated pockets of poorly bonded windslab high on corrie rims and gully exits.
Generally a thin snow cover, moist and fairly stable snowpack, some localised instabilities high in corries and gully exits on all Northerly aspects. A week of high winds and precipitation, freezing levels around summits.