Mountain weather

An evening with the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team

The evening was well attended by rescue team members and people from Glenmore Lodge outdoor training centre and Cairngorm Mountain SnowSports.

The Met Office team gave a series of short presentations covering how we produce our Mountain Forecasts; a review of recent winters and a look at the expected trends for future winters; and a brief look at some of the large scale drivers for our weather. After the presentation the audience was split into groups for a workshop. This involved them producing their own basic forecasts for the summit of Cairngorm using synoptic charts for three different case studies, while the forecasters were on hand to give advice. The case studies included a cold and unstable arctic maritime air mass; a mild warm sector setup and finally an approaching warm front. The actual weather for each example was then revealed and discussed.

The workshop exercise was carried out enthusiastically, with several people commenting on how much stronger than expected the summit winds were under the influence of a temperature inversion within the warm sector setup. It was interesting to hear some of their stories and experiences of weather in the Cairngorms, how the weather affects people’s decision making and how various types of severe weather can lead to rescue situations. Accurate weather forecasts are critical for the team’s decision making; both for planning and carrying out a rescue.

During the visit, Dave Rutledge, training officer for the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team was interviewed to find out more about the team’s work, how they operate and what life is like as a rescuer. The whole interview can be viewed below.