With the winter soon upon us and snow a distinct possibility from this weekend onward (though probably only in the Highlands), we take a quick look at the forecasting sites out there.
MWIS – Provide a daily forecast for all the major hill areas. The printable version is ideal for downloading onto a mobile, or even if you must to print out and take with you. They’re often rather brief, but are to the point and waffle free. This is the no nonsense forecast for mountain goers and definitely gets the thumbs up.
Met Office Mountain Weather -Again, a forecast for every major mountain area in the UK. In winter they provide fell top reports for Snowdonia and the Lakes. Since their forecast went ‘risk’ based I’ve found that they seem to err too far on the side of caution and don’t need much excuse to flag thunder as a risk. Whether it’s the unsettled weather we’ve had making it more difficult to forecast, they don’t appear to be as accurate as the past.
Sometimes the forecast for the Beacons and Snowdonia are identical, even when the synoptics suggest otherwise. The most annoying thing is that the general forecasts and the mountain forecast often contradict each other not so much due to mountain weather conditions, but that the different forecasts are updated at different times. The best bet is to make sure you check it in the morning before you set off for the more accurate forecast (I tend to look at them the previous night). Despite my misgivings, the Met Office provide a largely reliable forecast.
Neither of these sites provide over night forecasts, so any wild campers will need to check the normal forecast and hope for the best.
Other Websites – While there are other weather websites out there, I don’t rate a single one of them for mountain forecasts even if they claim to offer them. Metcheck has a mountain forecast, but I’m not sure it’s of any real use and while their site used to be handy for long term forecast, it seems to be down more often than not these days, or the long term forecast isn’t available. The only use they have is to check overnight weather. If you have a suggestion of a site we’ve missed, post it below. yr.no is one lesser known site that I’ve been recommended by a friend and is useful for overnight weather.
Snow-Forecast.com – You can check this out to see if there’s any snow due. While it looks impressive, I’m not sure how accurate it is. Even so, this has to be on your bookmark list if you’re the type of person who likes to look at every single information source in order to predict snow!
SAIS– This is the Scottish Avalanche Information Service and is a must if you’re visiting Scotland’s mountains in the winter. Providing a forecast for the areas of Creag Meagaidh, Glencoe, Lochaber and the North and South Cairngorms, there’s also a blog by the forecasters themselves that provides a fascinating read even if you have no intention of walking in the Highlands and just want to look at pictures of snow.