Online links for winter
Here some online resources that all help to keep you safe over the winter.
There are some really good resources online in the form of apps and articles that can help you keep safe or further your knowledge base for winter mountaineering. I have put together a few of those I have found useful here which look at sites and apps that help with weather forecasting and avalanche reporting.
Weather and avalanche are two vitally important topics in the winter and one greatly effects the other, weather essentially creates the conditions needed for a snow avalanche. Having good up to date weather forecasting and avalanche reports makes for better planning and awareness of what you're heading into at the weekend. A winter mountaineering day requires some prior planning and probably the most important is looking into the condition of the snowpack you wish to play on. I would recommend that at least a couple of weeks before you head out keep an eye on the amount of snow falling, wind direction and speed and the temperatures. Also keep an eye on what other people have been doing. This gives a good indication as to where and what avalanche hazards there are and on which aspects you might encounter them. There are some great resources for this and I have listed the ones which I find the most useful in building that all important picture before heading out, including a couple of resources for those who want to further their knowledge or refresh forgotten skills over the summer months.
Met Office : https://www.metoffice.gov.uk
Good reliable weather forecasting.
YR,NO : http://yr.no
Good reliable, general weather forecasting from the Norwegian App.
Mountain Weather Information Service : https://www.mwis.org.uk
The weather forecast delivered through the eyes of a mountaineer on the ground. Eg what the effect of the wind will be on your walking, how cold will it actually feel etc.
Scottish Avalanche Information Service : http://www.sais.gov.uk
Avalanche forecasts for the main areas in the Scottish Highlands delivered daily throughout the season. These begin part way into December running through to April. These are created by a forecaster heading out on a daily basis to conduct tests on the existing snowpack and then using some computer modelling and up to date weather forecasts to create an avalanche forecast for the following day.
Its important to note that these are as the name suggests a forecast. As such as with the weather things can change and quickly. That makes it vital to understand the factors that make snow turn from nice soft powder to avalanche prone so that as things change on the hill you can understand whats happening around you.
Be Avalanche Aware : https://be-avalanche-aware.teachable.com/p/be-avalanche-aware
If your not to sure how the forecasts are made, exactly what conditions they are using and if you need a better understanding of the dynamics of avalanches and how to interpret the forecasts better then this is a great resource. This is a great online course which should be taken by every winter mountain user.
SLF, Swiss Avalanche Service https://www.slf.ch/en/index.html
Perhaps off the Scottish topic but for those with an interest in Snow Science then this site which is of course dedicated too forecasting in the Swiss Alps does have some interesting pieces and blogs on avalanches, risk management and also decision making. As they say ‘the avalanche doesn’t know your an expert’ but it will help to arm yourself with as much information as you can absorb.
UKC Winter conditions and winter Forum : https://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/conditions/uk_winter/
For plenty of information from those who are on the ground climbing and mountaineering on a personal basis, this gives a good insight as to what might be happening on the ground. I did write the weekly winter reports for them many years ago. It is worth taking this sometimes with a pinch of salt as there is plenty of info on here through the season, some great some not so.
MWIS Blogs : https://www.mwis.org.uk/information/outdoor-links
There are plenty of useful links here to those who are often out guiding and instructing through the winter months and blog about the conditions and what they have been up to. Good local knowledge is a really good way to glean info on what might or might not be good areas to head to with an eyes on the ground style of reporting and up to date images.
Met Office Charts : https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/maps-and-charts/surface-pressure
Perhaps a little old school these days with all the above on offer. Many years ago an old instructor told me that if you could read the above chart then you had all the information at your finger tips. Synoptic charts gives you all the information needed to make a weather forecast. I won't go into how they work or what means what but suffice to say that if you are a mountain user then this is a skill which helps you hugely. Especially when overseas in places where weather forecasts are not great but you are able to get a surface pressure chart to make your forecast for yourself.
Met Office Learning Resources : https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/learn-about
Useful info and resources for a better understanding of what weather is!
And a final and useful option is of course the web cam, there are numerous webcams set up which have good reliable feeds giving a live eye on the mountains.
Hopefully you will find these useful. Its worth noting that there are numerous other sites online some good but also some terrible ones offering help and guidance in all things mountaineering. Try to steer clear as there is one thing that's just as bad as having no information and that's having misinformation. Try and look for some trusted logos such as instructor or guides badges and also trusted equipment providers giving their stamp of approval.
We run and deliver winter skills courses through the winter click here