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Fell Top Conditions on Friday 19 January

Readings from Helvellyn summit at 12:10

Temperature minus 3.6°C Maximum wind speed 36.5mph Wind chill minus 15°C Average wind speed 32.3mph Wind direction SW

With the majority of the valley snow having thawed, the main snowline is now around 200m. Today the assessor ascended the western side of Helvellyn – ie the windward side. Especially on and near the summit plateau there were areas of ground covered in verglas (thin ice) which had been scoured by the wind. However, in sheltered hollows, even on the windward side, there were drifts up to knee depth. Conversely on lee slopes above 700m there were drifts up to 150cm. Although such depth is the exception a rough average is between 20 and 30cm. The snowpack is very soft and this, combined with the depth, makes walking far more exhausting than normal and this must be considered when planning a route. Owing to lack of visibility, the assessor was unable to check for cornices and the stability of the snowpack on lee slopes. However, on Thursday it was reported that slopes especially those facing N to E to S were highly unstable above 700m with small avalanches being reported. Today further hail and spindrift will have added to existing accumulations making them potentially even more unstable especially when the soft snow/hail sits above hard snow. Anyone climbing, skiing, traversing or simply beneath such slopes should only be there if they have the knowledge to assess their stability otherwise please stay well clear.

The showers, together with low cloud, made for extremely challenging navigation with excellent navigational skills being essential. Literally one minute the route was clearly visible and the next visibility was reduced to virtually zero with blinding, stinging hail/spindrift together with the snow obscuring all landmarks. As such the assessor stopped just short of the summit trig point as the edge could not be seen!

Full winter clothing, footwear and equipment – including ice axe and crampons – are required for anyone venturing out into the medium to high fells. Owing to the stinging hail/spindrift goggles are also essential as is a good sense of humour!!

Lake District Forecast for Sunday

Dry and clear overnight with a widespread frost to start the day. Cloud rapidly thickening up with rain preceded by a few hours of snow soon spreading east across the Fells. The snow will fall to low levels for a time but turning to rain at all levels in the afternoon. Some higher hills will have several hours of snow with drifting in the strengthening winds.

Visibility

Good, but becoming poor in rain and drizzle and very poor in snow and then later mist and fog.

Hill cloud

A few hill tops will be clear at dawn but an overcast layer of cloud will soon develop across the high ground, lowering to 300 or 400m at times, shrouding all the hills.

Wind

South 15 increasing 25, then turning West in the afternoon and increasing up to 35mph with gusts 45mph.

Temperatures

  • Valley: Minus 3 rising to plus 5 Celsius
  • At 800m: Minus 1, rising to plus 5 Celsius
  • Freezing level: Valley floor but rising above the summits later in the day.

Outlook for next few days

Monday 22 January

Patchy rain and extensive low cloud through the morning, turning drier and brighter in the afternoon. Strong west becoming southwest winds over the high ground with the freezing level up above the highest hills.

Tuesday 23 January

Strong southwest winds all day with gales or severe gales possible on the highest hills. Cloudy for much of the day with a few spots of light rain at times although the rain turning heavier later.

Wednesday 24 January

Cloudy, wet and windy through the morning but turning brighter in the afternoon with a few showers. Winds easing and turning into the west in the afternoon and becoming a bit colder.



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