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Fell Top Conditions on Friday 22 March

Readings from Helvellyn summit at 12:40

Temperature plus 2.9°C Maximum wind speed 35.6mph Wind chill minus 5.7°C Average wind speed 26.7mph Wind direction SW

This report comes with a health warning! At the time of writing the forecasted evening and overnight precipitation may, or may not, fall as snow on the higher fells. Walkers out on Saturday, therefore, should be prepared to encounter more, or less, snow than experienced today. If the former, then at least you will know what the fresh snow has fallen onto.

A damp day on the fells, especially during the afternoon; this was falling as rain at all levels. There has been a faster thaw over the past 24 hours compared with the previous 48 hours. There is now little snow below 800m. That which remains lies in isolated patches in sheltered spots and hollows is wet in nature and presents no obstacle to walkers. Even above 800m, the majority of the ground up to and including summit level is now free from snow especially on west facing aspects; eg on the Swirrls footpath up Helvellyn (from the Thirlmere side) it is possible to walk to the summit without stepping on any snow. Conversely, the greatest accumulation of old snow lies above 800m on predominantly E facing slopes where, mainly above 900m, there are still drifts deep enough to swallow a 55cm ice axe. The remaining snow was almost all soft, but, again above 900m, there were isolated patches of harder snow which could take your weight and/or you could slip on – and these have not softened over the past 3 days despite the milder temperatures. As the majority of the snow is at altitude, it would only take a slight drop in temperature, which is currently forecast, for the remaining snowpack to refreeze. Therefore, walkers heading for the high fells on Saturday should be prepared to encounter hard snow and ice.

There are deepening cracks in the cornices above E and N facing slopes. Although they have significantly reduced in size during the week, these cornices remain 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 minus 6, 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 on Striding Edge 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 – certainly 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 Monday

Dry with clear spells overnight then a mostly dry and bright day with sunny spells, though high cloud increasing in the afternoon and cloudier in the evening with a little rain later.

Visibility

Mostly good or very good, though distant hills will be rather hazy and perhaps moderate at times in the evening.

Hill cloud

60% becoming 90% overnight as broken cloud around 800m continues to break up and 90%for most of the day, but chance decreasing to 30 or 40% in the evening with broken cloud down to 600m.

Wind

Northwesterly 25 to 30mph gust 40mph early in the day over higher peaks, but easing to 20mph in the morning.

Temperatures

  • Valley: Plus 4 rising to plus 10 Celsius
  • At 800m: Minus 2 Celsius overnight then plus 2 Celsius
  • Freezing level: Rising above the tops by morning

Outlook for next few days

Tuesday 26 March

Dry and bright but mostly cloudy through the day with perhaps a little rain in the evening. Occasionally fresh northwest winds over the tops. Freezing level falling to 700m overnight but then rising again.

Wednesday 27 March

Mostly cloudy with a little rain at times, but mostly dry over eastern fells with some bright or perhaps sunny spells. Feeling warm in the brighter east with moderate, mainly northwesterly winds. Freezing level above the tops.

Thursday 28 March

Generally dry and bright but mostly cloudy, though feeling warm where sun does break though. Light winds and freezing level well above the tops.



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