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West is Best - Grab it while you can & don't forget the suncream!

This Report for the Scottish Highlands was issued at
20.37hrs Thursday 23rd March 2017.
Significant snowfall and heavy drifting in the West earlier this week with high pressure now building in mean West is Best. High pressure in charge over the weekend with night frosts, but damper air and more wind early next week look like bringing a significant thaw - so get up Fri, Sat and Sun if you can!

Significant new snow fall and heavy drifting in the West earlier this week mean there's more snow on the upper mountain slopes of Meall a' Bhuiridh than at any time this season to date and Nevis Range has improved a decent amount also, with runs to the base of the Quad Chair and Top of the Gondola now open once again.

To be clear we are not talking go anywhere wall to wall deep powder, the snow came in high winds and there was only a limited base in place before hand. Thus open windward slopes are scoured, while natural snowfields, gullies, fences and lee aspects have caught considerable amounts of windblown snow.

Surface conditions remain relatively fresh higher up, with machine packed powdery corduroy where groomed but some softening away from the top slopes means gradually more spring like snow, which will start a bit firmer then loosen up.

With high pressure now in charge and holding through the weekend, it is a case of get out and grab it while you can. Warm summit temperatures should not have too significant an impact on the snow this weekend due to low humidity and light winds, but more humid, cloudier and windier conditions to start the week mean a significant thaw is likely through the first part of next week. So take advantage of what there is and get to CairnGorm, Glencoe or Nevis over the weekend.

Glencoe had the Plateau Poma, Coire Pollach Tow, Cliffhanger Chair and Main Basin T-bar up and running on Thursday and these are scheduled for Friday. Cover has significantly widened out in the Main Basin and most of the Spring Run, and the Wall is offering the best riding mid-mountain. Plateau and Old Mugs Alley are in reasonable shape for longer green terrain for early intermediates, but there are thin and narrow sections around most of the open terrain. However more lines are skiable than earlier this season. Low Road and Rankins Return have decent width of cover further out on the Plateau, but you need to head out from the upper leg of Mugs Alley to access them past the bottom of the Spring Run.

Nevis Range has also seen significant snowfall, though it looks like quite a lot of it has gone into the Back Corries, never the less enough has stuck along the fencelines on the front of the mountain to return to loading the Goose T-bar from the base. The Fairway is complete to the base of the Quad Chair generally at least 2 machine widths wide and the Rabbit Run is skiable once again for return to the Top of the Gondola. It is possible for good skiers and expert boarders to access the mountain via the Alpha and Alpha Traverse, but the Quad Chair is the advised route up from base.

The Back Corries have caught significant amounts of windblown snow and cover has improved markedly, though from a very low tide so still significant exposed rock bands and various hazards. Speak to patrol before venturing beyond the front of the mountain for the latest info. On Thursday it was possible to ski out the Rob Roys Return to the Alpha Tow.

On CairnGorm sadly far less new snow fell as showers were very much focussed on Western coastal ranges. However the open terrain has freshened up a bit, but there has been no increase in what is skiable. The main action is in the Top Basin on long greens and a single route to the mid-station via the Traverse and Coire Cas, which rather fizzles out in the lower Gunbarrel, though it was just possible to reach the mid-station queuing area with skis on. No uplift below the Top Basin except the Funicular from mid-mountain, though in theory the Cas Tow could run for the upper section which would be useful for the rebuilt Cas Shred, but it hasn't been turned on this season so perhaps we shouldn't expect miracles.

Unfortunately even less snow has reached Glenshee and there has been no new snow at the Lecht so both remain closed for snowsports.

:: Mountain Forecast Discussion
Friday should be dry as high pressure builds across Highland Scotland, though again some areas will have prolonged Sunshine while others are plagued by a high level haze. After an overnight frost in sheltered glens the temperature is expected to gradually climb to or just above 0°c at Munro Level. Little or no wind in the centre of the building high pressure.

With increasingly prolonged Sunshine and fresh snow on the ground, Sunburn will be a significant risk into the weekend, it could be warm on the Summits with the new snow cover greatly amplifying the effect.

Indications for the weekend have high pressure centred over Scotland. Little or no wind, prolonged Sunshine developing above any inversion mist. However where local onshore winds occur there is a risk of some cloud bubbling up, so day to day detail may change. If the forecast is correct despite warm temperatures there should be little thawing on the mountains in light winds and dry air with low dew points, though some softening on directly sunlit aspects. Potentially as high as +7 to +8°c at Munro Level, with little or no wind through the weekend.

Snow will aided by firming up overnight in dry air, and in sheltered glens and corries and on some high plateau areas given negligible wind overnight air frosts are possible despite warm for the time of year daytime temperatures in the Central Highlands.

Damper air as the high moves away will bring round the clock thaw conditions at the start of next week, so grab this opportunity over the next 3 days.

Check the MWIS and Met Office Mountain forecasts for the latest detailed area mountain weather outlooks.

:: NEW Winterhighland Android App
Optimised for speedy access to the essential information from Scotland's five snowsports areas on even the slowest mobile connections our new Android app is the easiest way to keep tabs with what's happening on the move and now includes Lowther Hills Ski Club.

:: Webcams and Weather Stations
We have added a new webcam in Leadhills in conjunction with the Hopetoun Arms Hotel and Lowther Hills Ski Club.

CAIRNGORM: SSC and Loch Morlich webcams are online.

AVIEMORE: Aviemore, Inverdruie and Loch Morlich cams online.

GLENCOE: All mountain and base cams online. SSC AWS is temperature only.

NEVIS: Temporarily no power at Braveheart, other webcams other than the Summit will be intermittent over coming days due to connectivity upgrades currently in progress.

:: Scottish Snowsport Areas: Snowphones & Websites
Glencoe: 01855 851226
Nevis Range: 01397 705825 www.nevisrange.co.uk
Lecht: 01975 651440 www.lecht.co.uk
CairnGorm: 01479 861261 www.cairngormmountain.co.uk
Glenshee: 013397 41320 www.ski-glenshee.co.uk
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Northern Cairngorms Outlook
Friday 24th March
FL: 3500ft.  Sunny
914m: 1°c SW 15 gust 25mph
Saturday 25th March
FL: >Tops.  Sunny
914m: 7°c Little or No Wind.
  20.02hrs Thu 23rd Mar
West Highlands Outlook
Friday 24th March
FL: 3000ft.  Part Cloudy
914m: 0°c Little or No Wind.
Saturday 25th March
FL: >Tops.  Inversion
914m: 6°c Little or No Wind.
  20.00hrs Thu 23rd Mar
Southern Cairngorms Outlook
Friday 24th March
FL: 3500ft.  Part Cloudy
914m: 1°c Little or No Wind.
Saturday 25th March
FL: >Tops.  Sunny
914m: 7°c Little or No Wind.
  20.02hrs Thu 23rd Mar
CairnGorm Mtn // Sat 18th Mar
Cover widening out in the Ptarmigan Bowl again - but milder overnight before turning colder on Sunday.
Nevis Range // Sat 11th Mar
Looking back up Lemming Ridge and across to Chancer in Coire Dubh. Braveheart Chairlift made it's season debut on Saturday and is scheduled for Sunday.
Glencoe // Sat 11th Mar
Looking back to the Spring Run from Rankin's Return. You could almost get the full vertical Saturday using this combination.
Glencoe // Thu 9th Mar
Main Basin in good shape with improved width and depth after the mid-week storm.
CairnGorm Mtn // Thu 9th Mar
White Lady (red) much improved from a week ago. Good riding to mid-station with mix of green, blue and red terrain on offer.
Glencoe // Sat 4th Mar
Snowed most of Saturday and the forecast is for light winds and brightening up on Sunday.
Nevis Range // Fri 3rd Mar
Riding with a view on the Summit Runs. Good options across the terrain spectrum with good riding for all ability levels.
Glencoe // Fri 3rd Mar
Full on mountain vertical of 1400ft now available with the Main Basin T-bar running. Hidden secret of the day, packed powdery corduroy on Rankin's Return far East on the Plateau.
Lowther Hill Outlook
Friday 24th March
FL: >Tops.  Overcast
725m: 5°c Little or No Wind.
Saturday 25th March
FL: >Tops.  Sunny
725m: 8°c NE 10 gust 15mph
  20.17hrs Thu 23rd Mar