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Fell Top Conditions on Thursday 21 March

Readings from Helvellyn summit at 12:45

Temperature plus 5.7°C Maximum wind speed 13.2mph Wind chill plus 1.3°C Average wind speed 9.7mph Wind direction WSW

With the stable weather, the ground conditions have been very similar for the past 48 hours, albeit with slightly less snow as the thaw continues at all levels. There is now little snow below 800m. That which remains lies in isolated patches in sheltered spots and hollows is soft in nature and presents no obstacle to walkers. Even above 800m, large areas of the fells up to and including summit level are now free from snow especially on west facing aspects; eg on the Swirrls footpath up Helvellyn (from the Thirlmere side) it is now easy to walk to the summit without stepping on any snow. Conversely, the greatest accumulations lie above 800m on predominantly E facing slopes where, mainly above 900m, there are drifts that can still swallow a 55cm ice axe. The remaining snow was almost all soft, but, especially above 900m, there were isolated patches of harder snow which could take your weight and/or you could slip on. As the majority of the snow is at altitude, it would only take a slight drop in temperature for the snowpack to refreeze so, although this is currently not forecast, walkers heading for the high fells on Friday should be prepared to encounter hard snow and ice.

There are deepening cracks in the, albeit shrinking, cornices above E and N facing slopes. With the milder temperatures these cornices are extremely unstable so please keep well clear of such edges and advise those with less experience to do likewise.

There is now quite a contrast in the Lake District between conditions in the daffodil-filled valleys and the high fells. The summit windchill was only just above zero, so full winter clothing (waterproofs, warm layers, hat & gloves), footwear and equipment remain essential for anyone venturing out onto the fells. For those going above the snowline and attempting, or just traversing, steep and exposed slopes an ice axe remains essential and crampons must be carried in case ice or hard snow is encountered. This is especially the case for anyone attempting Swirral and Striding Edges – the exits to which remain banked out with unavoidable, steep, deep snow – some of which was hard snow today necessitating the use of crampons. This is not a place to slip without the means of stopping yourself. Owing to the depth, altitude and east facing nature of this unavoidable snow it will probably be the last snow to thaw so will present a serious hazard for a while – including over the weekend. Conversely, there are now plenty of other, snow-free options up Helvellyn for those without the correct equipment or experience.

Lake District Forecast for Saturday

After a chilly and largely clear night a bright day is expected with sunny spells and just a few showers developing, these falling mainly as snow above about 450m. Mainly dry through the evening with clear spells.

Visibility

Very good falling to around a kilometre in any snow showers.

Hill cloud

Close to 100% at first with little or no cloud below summit level becoming around 75% by late morning with occasional cloud above 600m.

Wind

Westerly or northwesterly 20-25mph, gusts around 40mph over ridges and summits, decreasing 10mph towards midday

Temperatures

  • Valley: Around plus 2 Celsius rising to plus 9 Celsius
  • At 800m: Around minus 2 Celsius
  • Freezing level: Around 600m

Outlook for next few days

Sunday 24 March

Rather cloudy with outbreaks of showery rain, wintry on higher summits. Strengthening westerly winds. Freezing level rising just above the summits.

Monday 25 March

Rather cloudy but most places dry. Occasionally strong westerly or northwesterly winds easing. Freezing level just above the summits.

Tuesday 26 March

Another mostly cloudy day with patchy light rain and summit snow. Mainly light westerly or northwesterly winds. 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