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Fell Top Conditions on Saturday 20 January

Readings from Helvellyn summit at 13:40

Temperature minus 2.6°C Maximum wind speed 7.2mph Wind chill minus 7.2°C Average wind speed 3.9mph Wind direction variable - mainly N

The Lakeland fells are currently covered by a substantial amount of snow which begins from around 150m. The snow depth rises with height with the deepest drifts of over 100cm to be found above 700m on N to E to S facing slopes. Although such depth is the exception a very rough average is between 20 and 30cm. The undisturbed snowpack is very soft and this, combined with the depth, makes for tiring walking – extra time and Mars Bars (other calorific snacks are available) should be allowed for this. Conversely, on popular routes the snow has been compacted making for slippery conditions and below 350m, walkers out early on Sunday should expect to encounter ice on paths where any of Saturday’s thawed snow has refrozen overnight.

Although there has been a slight consolidation of the snowpack those slopes loaded with the most snow (facing N to E to S) remain soft and unstable owing to their layers not having bonded – eg, graupel (small balls of ice) and hail being found in them. Anyone climbing, skiing, traversing or simply walking beneath such slopes should only be there if they have the knowledge to assess their stability otherwise please stay well clear. A thaw/freeze cycle will obviously help their consolidation. There are also cornices above such potentially unstable slopes and today, although the vast majority of folk were keeping a sensible distance from the edge, there were footprints on, basically, frozen snow over a big drop. Please advise such people to keep their distance – and the reason for it!

Full winter clothing, footwear and equipment – including ice axe and crampons – are required for anyone venturing out into the medium to high fells; this includes those not attempting steep routes. For example, crampons were useful on the summit plateau which was covered in verglas (thin ice) where the snow has been scoured by the wind. For those out on Sunday goggles and excellent navigational skills are also essential as the deep snow obscures all landmarks creating difficulty when combined with low cloud. Conversely, conditions today were fantastic with a magnificent cloud inversion to the S and W, so come properly equipped and enjoy our wonderful fells!

Lake District Forecast for Monday

Rather cloudy with wintry showers, these falling mainly as rain below above 750m. Most places become dry during the afternoon with some bright or sunny spells developing. Increasing cloud brings outbreaks of rain through the evening. A thaw continuing through the day.

Visibility

Very good falling to several kilometres in rain and showers.

Hill cloud

Around 25% with periods above 750m but, especially over western fells, lowering to 450m at times in showers, becoming nearer 75% with occasional cloud above 750m in the afternoon. Chances fall again during the evening, especially in the west, as cloud becomes periods above 450m.

Wind

Westerly winds 25-30mph with gusts around 45mph over ridges and summits, backing more southwesterly later.

Temperatures

  • Valley: Dropping to around plus 1 Celsius by dawn then rising to plus 7 Celsius by day.
  • At 800m: Around plus 1 Celsius.
  • Freezing level: Around 900m rising well above the summits.

Outlook for next few days

Tuesday 23 January

Mostly cloudy with outbreaks of rain, these becoming more persistent later. Strong to gale force southwesterly winds. Freezing levels well above the summits.

Wednesday 24 January

More persistent rain clearing overnight then sunny spells and showers, these wintry at times on the fell tops. Strong to gale force southwesterly winds. Freezing level above the summits falling to 900m later.

Thursday 25 January

Clear or sunny spells and showers, these falling increasingly as snow above about 750m. Strong to gale force southwesterly winds slowly easing. Freezing level around 900m.



An overview to the weather in the Lake District

Summer:

The summer season in the Lake District actually runs from March to October. The driest period runs between March and June.

The weather is renowned for changing rapidly and rainfall is a predominant feature. The wettest area in the Lake District is known as Sprinkling Tarn which receives approximately 5000mm of rainfall every year!

Winter:

The wettest months run from October to January.

Snowfall typically falls from November to March. The valleys of the Lake District receive around 20 days of snow and 200 days of rain per year.

Winter is actually a beautiful time of year to enjoy the spectacular views.

It’s important to stay safe during the Winter period, especially if you are considering exploring the fells. If you’re a fan of the Lake District in Winter, why not register on one of our Winter Skills Courses? Learn more