Skip to main content

Chasing the right weather . . .

Not as odd a concept as you may think . . . with the amount of forecasting sites available on the web, 'chasing the weather' has become a black art.

All of us who love the outdoors have different priorities when it comes to weather: rock climbers, winter mountaineers, canoeists, surfers, walkers, paragliders. However, we all have one thing in common: the perfect forecast! For a surfer, this may be a settled period after a storm, with huge swells and little wind. For walkers and climbers, it is the eternal hunt for the 'blue day', usually a high pressure forecast with light winds and dry conditions underfoot. For canoeists, rain-swollen, low pressure systems whet the appetite, as the rivers boil into bursting arteries of peaty water. For paragliders, only the stillest, 'thermal' days will do.


Many old-timers will smell it in the wind, or have developed an instinct for it, such as 'mixed' winter mountaineers. This rare breed of snow-scrapers seek out hoared up rock in the Highlands, with each hill-range cursed with particular micro-climates and eccentric thermal behaviours influenced by a largely maritime situation - only perfect combinations of temperature, moisture and wind direction will see the cliff face come into 'perfect nick'. Nothing is more disappointing after a 2am alpine start, a 4 hour drive, a powder-snowed 3 hour walk-in, than to find the cliff  'black' and dripping, rather than frozen into a turfy, dandruffed playground.



For boulderers, only a dry, cold spell in autumn or winter, when the leaves wither into Barbecue crisps and the rock squeaks with chalk, will do. For trad climbers, long summer high pressures are the stuff of dreams, it seems more so these days.


 And so we all have our favourite forecasting sites, trawling through our list of Favourites to find the forecast that's 'just right', knowing fine well the weather will do just what it's going to do. It doesn't stop us picking our forecasts, though. Here are a few of my most visited sites for chasing weather in Scotland - my favourite is the Norway site. The Scandinavians are obviously used to Atlantic weather fronts and YR.NO is a great weather channel providing a time-slide animation which features wind direction, temperature and precipitation at once. It also offers pretty accurate long-term forecasts for those of us stuck at the coalface of dirty, jet-streamed low pressure queues...


The BBC also offers a reasonable time-slide satellite animation and good break-downs of  daily local conditions:



The best mountain sites for Scotland are the MWIS page, a PDF-based system, and the Met Office Mountain Forecasts 




Comments

elvin said…
really cool rock climbing, I love it. I wait your presence on my blog http://skrtu.blogspot.com

Popular posts from this blog

Clyde Bloc Sport

Cammy Bell enjoying the summer evenings at Dunglass Currently we are developing the Stone Country Bloc Sport website to include a new series of area guides in pdf format, reworking Dumby and other Glasgow-radius crags with sport climbing included (so we'll have the new sports crags at Lomond and elsewhere...details to come!). These topos will also be available from the exciting new Betaguides website (due to launch in the next month or so - a complete database of bouldering in Britain). For the new Bloc Sport webiste I've been embroiled in all things Joomla, which is frying my head, so can't promise anything too soon, so I'll put the topos up on the blog as soon as we get them. Here's an example topo from the guides, which we will be producing in guidebook format next year - it's the Dunglass sport wall: Dunglass has been a saviour for me over the early summer, acting as a good training ground to get some basic fitness back. We have fully bolted the W

Plato's Cave

In his famous 'allegory of the cave', the Greek philosopher Plato pondered the artificiality of reality in imagining how we could be fooled into thinking shadows on the wall (i.e. virtual reality) could be seen as 'real' life. I'm paraphrasing, of course. What has this got to do with climbing? Well, I was pondering this myself recently while sitting on an artificial concrete boulder at the new Cuningar Loop bouldering park in Glasgow. Does it really matter that a boulder is made of concrete, surrounded by plantation and skirted with kind gravel traps rather than tree roots and spikey boulders? Isn't the 'real' thing so much better: the isolated erratic bloc deposited by geology's long-term aesthetic artwork? Well, yes, that's entirely up to you, but sometimes the artificial saves the day ... I was scuppered by Glasgow's cross-town traffic and turned back to my local artifice that is Cuningar to climb the blue circuit I had imagined as

Timeline Walks of Scotland #Culbin Sands

The Moray Firth’s sand-bitten southern coast, between Findhorn and Nairn, is home to Scotland’s most cautionary tract of land. Now a wilderness of maritime forest, dunes, salt marsh and spits of sand, its human history has been dated to the Bronze Age, around 1300 BC, but it is a territory that since glacial times would have been mobile and mutable. The Laich of Moray is the fertile strip of plain squeezed between the foothills of the Cairngorms and the Moray Firth’s south coast. In Gaelic it is called Machair Mhoireibh (the machair of Moray), a perfect habitat for golf courses and rich arable farmland, threaded by the glacially-rivered straths of Nairn, Findhorn and Spey. Culbin is an old parish which is now buried under 28 square kilometres of duneland and recent forestry. Sweeping east of Narin and curving in to rise up to its greatest heights above the estuary of the River Findhorn, it is now managed by Forestry Commission Scotland, but it is notable that this is a humanl