Freezing Rain…

1st March 2023

The high pressure system continues to dominate the weather over Scotland. With north easterly winds, the gloomy conditions have persisted in cloud. Although there were some bright spells late on in the day.

Due to the proximity of the upper limit of the temperature inversion being close to the major summits, temperatures have hovered just below freezing. But at lower elevations in cloud the recorded temperatures have actually been lower. For example at midday it was -1.7 degrees Celsius on the summit of Cairn Gorm, while a temperature of -2 was recorded at 1020 metres in Cairngorm ski area.

Despite our forecast weather data being very reliable, negligible amounts of precipitation were expected today. Snow flurries overnight turned to rain at all levels by early in the morning, and it was raining on the summit of Cairn Gorm at midday (yup with an air temperature of -1.7 degrees).  Interestingly, the precipitation experienced today was largely confined to the northern upslopes of Cairn Gorm, and it was actually dry, with some broken cloud over at my snow profile location near Stag Rocks, on the edge of the Loch Avon Basin.

To sum things up this has created a highly variable snow surface which has little to commend it away from the groomed pistes. Variously consisting of rime covered in a coating of fine verglas, crusty surface deposits, and a thin breakable crust elsewhere.

Due to temperatures fluctuating around freezing, there has been minimal snow transport. With some isolated shallow patches of fresh snow in sheltered hollows on the plateau, rather than the anticipated windslab development. The avalanche hazard is low.


The clearest spell today on the summit of Cairn Gorm 1245m.


The snow surface was “variable” today. A mixture of icy rime, windblown deposits (centre) and an icy rain crust in many locations.


Looking down into Diagonal Gully – Stag Rocks


Freezing rain on Cairn Gorm summit at midday. -1.7 degrees Celsius, but raining…

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