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Southwest Highlands - Mountain weather forecast

Weather warnings

Warnings affecting Southwest Highlands over the next 5 days


High for the rather unsettled and showery conditions over the run-up to Christmas. Low regarding timing and extent of more persistent rain and snow on Friday, and on Sunday.

  • Wednesday
  • Thursday
  • Further outlook

Wednesday 19 December 2018

Weather hazards

Gales High likelihood Hide detail

Gale force winds (gusts over 50mph) make walking difficult and strenuous with a potential to be blown over by gusts. There is often a marked increase in winds through cols or on exposed ridges and summits. Distances can take longer to cover and compass bearings become harder to follow accurately.

Learn more about gales

Severe chill effect Medium likelihood Show detail

Wind significantly lowers the ‘feels-like’ temperature relative to the actual temperature, with even moderate winds significantly adding to the chilling effect. Strong winds can result in a severe and debilitating wind chill many degrees below the actual temperature. This effect will be enhanced in rain or wet snow. Without protection, prolonged exposure could result in frost nip or frostbite on exposed parts of the body and/or hypothermia.

Learn more about severe chill effect

Poor visibility Medium likelihood Show detail

Poor visibility presents challenging route finding conditions. Visibility could be significantly less than 50 metres in all directions with few or no visual references, especially on featureless moors or plateaux. Distances become hard to judge and cliff or cornice edges can be difficult to recognise. These conditions require good navigational skills. There is a risk of white-out conditions when mist or fog is combined with extensive snow cover.

Learn more about poor visibility

Blizzards Low likelihood Show detail

Blizzards and whiteouts present challenging and serious conditions due to a combination of falling or blowing snow, strong winds and cold temperatures. They can be highly disorientating, often resulting in near-zero visibility with limited or no visual references and no distinction between ground and sky. Cliff edges and cornices may not be apparent, even close up. These conditions require very good navigational skills.

Learn more about blizzards

Heavy snow Low likelihood Show detail

Heavy snow can lead to rapid changes in underfoot conditions and paths may become treacherous or hidden. It also brings very poor visibility and often makes navigation much more challenging. When deep snow accumulates progress is often time consuming and strenuous, significantly affecting the distance one can travel on foot. Deep drifts can develop if snow is combined with strong winds. A heightened avalanche risk is possible and avalanche reports should be consulted where available.

Learn more about heavy snow

Storm force winds Low likelihood Show detail

Storm force winds (gusts over 70mph) make walking very strenuous with any mobility virtually impossible over exposed ground. Where these conditions occur there is a high risk of being blown over and even standing may be impossible at times with a risk of being blown off one’s feet. Basic tasks such as using a map, eating, putting on extra clothing or communication become extremely difficult away from any shelter.

Learn more about storm force winds


Mainly dry by day with only a few light showers. Feeling cold with summit gales and sub-zero temperatures bringing a severe wind chill. Showers will become more frequent after dark.


06:00 09:00 12:00 15:00 18:00 21:00
Weather at 800m Fog Fog Light snow Heavy snow Heavy snow Heavy snow
Chance of precipitation at 800m 10% 10% 00% 00% 00% 00%

Wind speed and direction

06:00 09:00 12:00 15:00 18:00 21:00
Altitude above mean sea level
1300m SE 33 40 SE 37 45 S 40 49 SE 41 50 SE 29 36 SE 27 34
900m S 21 26 S 24 32 S 29 38 S 29 38 SE 21 28 SE 20 26
600m S 32 38 S 35 41 S 34 42 S 33 41 SE 24 30 SE 22 28
300m S 16 26 S 18 28 S 18 29 SE 18 27 SE 14 23 SE 11 18
Glen S 4 16 S 9 23 SE 9 22 SE 7 20 SE 5 16 SE 5 14


06:00 09:00 12:00 15:00 18:00 21:00
Altitude above mean sea level
1300m -3 ° -3 ° -3 ° -3 ° -2 ° -2 °
900m 0 ° -1 ° 0 ° 0 ° 0 ° 0 °
600m 3 ° 3 ° 3 ° 3 ° 4 ° 3 °
300m 5 ° 5 ° 5 ° 5 ° 5 ° 5 °
Glen 6 ° 6 ° 7 ° 7 ° 6 ° 6 °

Feels like temperature

06:00 09:00 12:00 15:00 18:00 21:00
Altitude above mean sea level
1300m -12 ° -13 ° -13 ° -12 ° -10 ° -11 °
900m -7 ° -8 ° -8 ° -8 ° -6 ° -7 °
600m -4 ° -4 ° -4 ° -4 ° -2 ° -3 °
300m 0 ° 0 ° 0 ° 1 ° 1 ° 1 °
Glen 5 ° 3 ° 4 ° 5 ° 4 ° 4 °

Freezing level

06:00 09:00 12:00 15:00 18:00 21:00
Freezing level i 900 m 800 m 900 m 900 m 1,000 m 900 m
Sunrise: 08:50
Sunset: 15:42
Moon phase: Waxing gibbous


The morning will be mainly dry, quite bright with some sunny intervals in shelter through many of the mountains will be cloudier with some summit hill fog. In the afternoon, a few showers developing, falling as snow on the higher hills, perhaps down to 750m. In the evening the showers will become more widespread with some heavier ones developing too, and strong summit winds may allow some temporary blizzard conditions to develop on the highest hills.

Chance of cloud-free mountain/hill tops at 800m

30% with capping cloud on many of the Munros falling to 10% by evening as more general cloud at 450-600m arrives.


In the morning and early afternoon, mainly good away from summit cloud, falling moderate to poor in showers later in the afternoon and in the evening.

Met Office Aberdeen meteorologist's view

Peak summit winds are likely to be into the 60s mph.

Thursday 20 December 2018

Sunrise: 08:51
Sunset: 15:42
Moon phase: Waxing gibbous


Showers dying out in the early hours, leaving a lot of cloud over most of the area. Showers will spread from the west during the morning falling as snow above about 800m, with further shower bands likely through the afternoon and evening.

Maximum wind speed expected

Southerly 20 gusts 30mph becoming southwest 30 gusts 40mph in the afternoon.

Chance of cloud-free mountain/hill tops at 800m

30% generally though varying as shower bands move through.


  • At 800m Plus 1 Celsius
  • Glen Plus 2 rising to Plus 6 Celsius.
  • Freezing level 900m


Often good away from cloud and showers, falling moderate in showers and poor in snow showers.

Friday 21 December 2018

Sunrise: 08:52
Sunset: 15:43
Moon phase: Full

Cloudy with more persistent rain sleet and snow. The snow level uncertain but could be as low as 500m for a time associated with southeasterly gales and a blizzard risk before rising to 800m, and remaining above summits over Arran.

Saturday 22 December 2018

Sunrise: 08:52
Sunset: 15:43
Moon phase: Full

Bright intervals and occasional showers falling as snow above 900m. Strong to gale westerly winds.

Sunday 23 December 2018

Sunrise: 08:52
Sunset: 15:44
Moon phase: Full

Low confidence - but most likely to stay bright with a few showers, with snow on the tops, but a chance of some longer spells of rain and hill snow.

Issued at:
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Includes Ben Nevis, Glen Coe and the rest of Lochaber, Argyll including the Isles, Loch Lomond, Trossachs and Arran

The South West Highlands is an extensive area of mountains, moorland, islands and sea which is home to several distinctly different cultures. The West Highland Way was Scotland's first long distance route and remains by far the most popular. It stretches for 94 miles from Milngavie on the edge of Glasgow to Fort William at the foot of Ben Nevis.

The South West Highlands area is very sparsely populated, with many mountain ranges including the highest mountain in the British Isles, Ben Nevis, standing at 1,344 metres. This mountain is a popular destination attracting an estimated 100,000 ascents a year. The 700 metre cliffs of the north face are among the highest in the UK, providing classic scrambles and rock climbs of all difficulties for climbers and mountaineers.

For snow and avalanche hazard forecasts please visit Sportscotland Avalanche Information Service

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