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Fell Top Conditions on Friday 15 February

Readings from Helvellyn summit at 12:35

Temperature plus 5.2°C Maximum wind speed 27.5mph Wind chill minus 1.1°C Average wind speed 20.3mph Wind direction SW

The thaw continues – it was a ridiculous (for February!) plus 5 degrees on the summit around midday. There is no snow below 700m. Between 700m and 850m only patches of snow remain which are found in sheltered spots and hollows and are easily avoidable. Above 850m, the frequency and depth of such snow patches increases with altitude although large areas of the fells up to, and including, summit level are now free from snow. The majority of the remaining snow lies on E and N facing slopes and in sheltered gullies and, as such, is generally avoidable with two notable exceptions – namely the exits to both Striding end especially Swirral Edges.

There was more snow along Swirral Edge whereas Striding Edge was simply dry, bare rock. However, both exits are guarded by banks of steep, unavoidable snow. This was quite soft on Striding Edge (although it might not be on Saturday), whereas it was hard snow on Swirral. Several people were negotiating these sections without winter equipment and it is possible to do so BUT it would not be possible to stop a fall on steep, hard snow without an ice axe hence our strong recommendation is that an ice axe remains essential for anyone tackling the edges and crampons should be carried. Although it’s only for a very short section it’s not a place to slip and, owing to the snow’s height, depth and east facing nature, it will probably be the last snow to thaw in the Lakes.

With the thaw the, albeit small, cornices situated above SE to E to N facing slopes are even more unstable, so please keep well back from such edges and advice those with less experience to do likewise.

Despite the Spring-like conditions in the valleys, the summit windchill remains below freezing, so full winter clothing (waterproofs, plenty of warm layers, hat & gloves), footwear and equipment are essential for anyone venturing out onto the fells.

Climbers – although there’s still snow in the gullies, it’s very soft and damage will be done to fragile alpine plants in the, hopefully unlikely, event that any routes be attempted.

For those interested in the weather stats, the wind was stronger (over 30mph) on the ascent and descent compared with the summit.

Lake District Forecast for Sunday

Very windy on the tops. Patchy rain clears overnight then a dry, bright start to the morning. A band of cloud and showery rain moves east through the day, the rain not amounting to much. Clearer conditions following later.

Visibility

Good at first but becoming hazy and occasionally poor in showery rain.

Hill cloud

Highly variable. 70% at first with patchy cloud cover then 20% for a few hours during the day with extensive cloud above 600m before clearing later.

Wind

South or Southwest average 30-40mph, gusts 60mph on highest summits and exposed ridges.

Temperatures

  • Valley: Plus 8C rising to 10 or 11C.
  • At 800m: Plus 5C, falling to Plus 2C in evening.
  • Freezing level: Well above summits, lowing to 1000m in evening.

Outlook for next few days

Monday 18 February

Bright spells and passing showers, wintry on the summits. Strong southwesterly winds on the tops with significant wind chill. Freezing level around 900m.

Tuesday 19 February

Mainly dry and bright with lighter winds. A chance of some rain and summit snow with strong southwesterly winds later.

Wednesday 20 February

Rain and summit snow in early hours will clear. Then mainly dry and bright but windy on the summits.



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