Tag team forecasting & deteriorating conditions

30th December 2023

Two forecasters on duty today so an opportunity to look at the core Creag Meagaidh area as well as the outlying Drumochter hills.

I was out on the West side of Creag Meagaidh today in Coire nan Laogh. The day started cold and dry but East-South-East winds soon increased and snow started falling from late morning to give blizzard conditions in the afternoon.

I was pleased to see that plenty of wildlife had survived Storm Gerrit with fresh tracks seen from mountain hare and red deer. I also saw several groups of ptarmigan, a buzzard (too far away for a photo) and a fox which I don’t think that I’ve seen before while forecasting.

(Above) Chno Dearg and Stob Coire Sgriodain in the better weather early this morning.


(Above) Beinn a’ Chaorainn. Lots of snow being stripped from the East Ridge and the corrie rims to be deposited as windslab on sheltered West to North aspects.


(Above) Ptarmigan blending in with the snow today.


(Above) It’s unusual to see a fox on a forecasting day.


Meanwhile, over in the Drumochter area…


(Above) The car park at Balporran Cottages – midway between Drumochter summit and Dalwhinnie. A nagging cold wind down here this morning gave an indication that it might be a quite a breezy day over summits. Was definitely the sort of day when a very early start/finish paid dividends as overhead conditions got progressively worse over the course of the morning. In the car park, lots of happy, smiling faces on the returning ‘early birds’ but also on the ‘hope springs eternal’ late starters…many of whom made a quick return to their cars as hill conditions deteriorated.


(Above) A telephoto view of the hulking mass of Ben Alder taken from the A9 near Dalwhinnie before snow showers commenced. Plenty of scouring and drifting going on, some of which ended up as windslab but a fair proportion seemed to just sublimate into the atmosphere.


(Above) Looking south towards the Drumochter Pass from low on Geal Charn (917m), with the A9 prominent in the bottom of the glen.

Wind speeds picked up dramatically from late morning onwards creating quite hostile mountain conditions above 700m. The video clip below gives a (very) brief impression:

(Apologies for the poor quality; operating the camera was not without its challenges in the maelstrom of blowing snow!)

Comments on this post

  • Mike Sharp
    31st December 2023 10:58 am

    Great to meet you out in Drumochter yesterday. Thanks for stopping and taking the time to chat with us. A wild day on the tops for sure! Also just wanted to say Happy New Year to all the team at SAIS, you are the unsung heroes of Scottish Mountaineering, all of us who are privileged to be able to enjoy winter in the hills of Scotland appreciate your commitment and dedication to keeping us all safe. Cheers Darren and Mike ( The Early Birds…for once)..

    • meagaidhadmin
      31st December 2023 8:17 pm

      Yes, indeed, well met, Darren & Mike! Happy New Year to both of you as well as to all other blog followers!

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