Mountain weather

Northwest Highlands

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Northwest Highlands Mountain weather forecast table

Confidence

High for staying rather cold until mid week. High for milder conditions from late Wednesday or on Thursday, but low for timing, and for details later in the week.

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Sunset:
Mountain hazards

Mountain weather hazards

Hazards apply at or above 300m, reflecting the more severe conditions which can occur at altitude.

hazard Poor visibility
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.

hazard Heavy snow
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.
hazard Severe chill effect
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.

hazard Blizzards
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.
hazard Gales
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.

Mountain weather forecast

Mostly dry start, but snow showers becoming widespread later in day, occasionally heavy. Cold and breezy.

Wind direction and speed (mph)
Altitude above mean sea level
Wind gust (mph)
Altitude above mean sea level

Altitude above mean sea level

Altitude above mean sea level

Additional weather information

Weather

Clear skies north of Assynt leading to a sunny frosty start. Elsewhere cloudy, snow showers across Skye in the early hours, spreading to the mainland from dawn. Low cloud and snow showers widespread by mid-morning. Showers occasionally heavy with spells of more continuous snow, rain below 300m, in the afternoon and evening, but turning to rain below 800m across Skye and the west coast.

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

90% around dawn north of Assynt with largely clear skies. Otherwise nil, cloud extensive above 600-700m, occasionally down 500m. This spreading to all ranges by late morning.

Visibility

Occasionally very good across northern ranges at first. Otherwise poor in low cloud, whiteout conditions on higher snow covered slopes. Visibility falling to near zero in heavy continuous snow showers.

Met Office Aberdeen meteorologist's view

A challenging navigation day with whiteout conditions and very poor visibility. Freezing level will rise to around 1000m across Skye and the southwest ranges through the afternoon.

Sunrise:
Sunset:

Mountain weather information

Weather

Low cloud and snow showers clear through the early hours. Then a mostly dry day with sunny spells, just the odd isolated shower affecting western coastal hills, little change through the evening.

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

20% through the early hours. Improving to 80% by dawn with cloud clearing from the west. Patchy cloud mainly above 700m through the day, most frequent across north northwest.

Maximum wind speed expected

Northwest 20-25mph. Turning west then southwest 15-20mph in the evening.

Temperature

  • At 800m Minus 2 Celsius.
  • Glen Minus 1 Celsius rising to plus 1 Celsius.
  • Freezing level 700-800m.

Visibility

Generally very good outside of any patchy cloud.

Mountain weather information

Wednesday 18 December

Sunrise:
Sunset:

Dry cold and sunny with light to moderate winds. Low cloud in the evening with southerly gales developing. Rain and summit snow likely from around midnight. Freezing level 800m, falling to 500m in the afternoon, rising to 1000m towards midnight.

Thursday 19 December

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Sunset:

Rain clearing in the morning with southerly gales easing slightly. Then dry with sunny spells. A chance of rain showers in the west by evening. Milder than recent days. Freezing level above the summits.

Friday 20 December

Sunrise:
Sunset:

Southerly winds continue to ease. A chance of showers in the west, but mostly dry with a good chance of sunny spells. Freezing level around 1300m.

Updated at:

Summit specific forecast

Mountain summit forecast map

The Cuillin Hills on the Isle of Skye are among the steepest mountains in the UK and include 15 peaks above 3,000 feet (900 metres). There are two main ridges; the magnificent Black Cuillins and the Red Cuillins around Loch Coruisk to the south.

Torridon has some of the most spectacular mountain scenery in Scotland which includes Beinn Eighe, a long ridge with many spurs and summits, two of which are classified as Munros. Beinne Eighe also includes Britain's first ever national nature reserve where you may spot golden eagles, buzzards, pine martins and wild cats on your travels.

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