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Fell Top Conditions on Tuesday 18 February

Readings from Helvellyn summit at 13:10

Temperature minus 0.6°C Maximum wind speed 37.3mph Wind chill minus 10.4°C Average wind speed 26.1mph Wind direction SW

Fresh snow has settled above 400m adding to existing accumulations; however it was already thawing below 700m and rapidly below 550m. Yet again, the snow was accompanied with a predominantly south to westerly wind. Thus, although snow depth increases with altitude, actual depth varies from little on windblown aspects, such as large parts of the summit plateau, to drifts deep enough to swallow a 60cm ice axe – although such depth is exceptional – with a very rough average being about 5cm of fresh snow at 900m. The greatest accumulations are in sheltered spots and hollows and on east facing aspects. The recent snow is soft and often wet; however, above 850m on east and north facing slopes, fresh snow lies above the patches of old hard, icy snow that has been present for several weeks with the 2 layers not bonding – indeed, there was evidence of windslab today. The summit plateau was covered in ice and its rocks plastered in rime ice. This made walking in the strong and gusty winds, which were blowing towards the edge, more treacherous.

Summit visibility was very poor today, so it was not possible to make a proper inspection, however from the exits to Striding and especially Swirral Edges, it appeared that cornices are beginning to form, so please keep well away from the edges of north and east facing aspects and advise those with less experience to do likewise.

There is now quite a contrast between the green, Spring-like valleys and the winter conditions on the fells. Thus full winter clothing (waterproofs, warm layers, hat & gloves), footwear and equipment are essential for anyone venturing out onto the fells. For those going above the snowline and attempting exposed routes, or climbing or traversing steep ground, an ice axe is essential and crampons must be carried in case ice is encountered as it was today on the exits to both Striding and Swirral Edges. Indeed crampons, or micro spikes, are also highly recommended to safely traverse the flat summit plateau owing to the amount of ice on the ground. Snow obscuring landmarks combined with low cloud means that the ability to navigate in extremely poor visibility is also essential. Goggles are also highly recommended to take the pain out of driving hail and were certainly appreciated today!

Climbers – despite the return of some welcome snow, it is very soft and the turf is still not frozen. Please only attempt routes if you are certain that routes are in condition and that you will not damage the rare alpine plants either on the climb or on the approach to it. Please refer to the BMC “White Climbing Guide” for details.

Lake District Forecast for Thursday

Outbreaks of heavy rain overnight and during the morning, the rain turning to sleet or snow above 600m during the morning. Turning drier and brighter in the afternoon with some wintry showers, snow mainly above 300m. Rather cloudy with wintry showers continuing through the evening. Windy.

Visibility

Moderate or poor in rain. Otherwise mostly good or very good, but poor or very poor in wintry showers.

Hill cloud

Nil overnight and early morning, extensive cloud base 600m or less. Becoming 70% in the afternoon, occasional or extensive cloud around 1000m, although lower in showers.

Wind

Increasing West 30 to 40mph gusting 60mph during daylight hours.

Temperatures

  • Valley: Plus 3 to 6 Celsius
  • At 800m: Around 4 Celsius falling to Minus 2 Celsius
  • Freezing level: Above the summits falling to around 300m by dusk

Outlook for next few days

Friday 21 February

Mainly dry overnight, then outbreaks of rain developing during daylight hours, becoming heavy and persistent at times. A short period of snow is possible over the summits. Southwesterly winds gale or severe gale force at height. Freezing level soon rising above the summits.

Saturday 22 February

Rain clearing overnight. Bright during daylight hours with occasional showers, these wintry over the tops. Very windy with westerly gales or severe gales at height with a severe wind chill. Freezing level lowering to around 800m.

Sunday 23 February

Showers or longer periods of rain and snow overnight, snow mainly above 600m. Bright with showers during daylight hours, snow mainly above 600m. Strong to gale force westerly winds at height. Freezing level around 700m.

An overview of 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!

Make the most of the summer on a guided walk or navigation course

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.

Enjoy the fells safely on a winter skills course