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Avalanche service begins winter forecasting

Posted 10 December 2012
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Avalanche service begins winter forecasting
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If ever proof was need that winter is well and truly with us, the Scottish Avalanche Information Service (SAIS) has begun issuing such forecasts.

Last weekend (December 8th and 9th) saw the first forecasts issued from the Scottish Highlands, with no significant danger being reported yet.

SAIS takes reports from five locations - Craig Meagaidh, the northern Cairngorms, the Southern Cairngorms, Glencoe and Lochaber. These issue a circular schematic map showing which sides of the mountain pose the largest risk according to their colour coding.

These range from green for low - where natural avalanches are very unlikely and there is little chance of people triggering them - through to moderate (yellow), considerable (orange), high (red) and very high (black).

Readings in red and black indiciate that avalanches of snow will occur and while those who go walking on the mountains may be well-equipped for the weather and terrain if they take crampons and thermal clothes, but even then areas prone to avalanches should ideally be avoided, due to the risk to life and limb this poses.

Skiers may also want to pay attention to these forecasts, not least if they are heading off piste. Of the five forecast areas, only Creag Meagaidh is not a ski area.

Scotland's ski areas are now opening up for the winter, so those who are putting on ski goggles might wish to pay extra attention to the mountain weather information that is available, both for their own safety and to catch the best conditions for a day on the slopes.

The Cairngorm Mountain and Lecht ski resorts in the Cairngorms National Parks have been open for over a week now, with others gradually joining them.

Glencoe is now open with nine out of 16 runs in operation today (December 10th), while the Nevis Range near Fort William was open over the weekend.

This leaves only Glenshee in the southern Cairngorms yet to open. There, the prognosis is that some runs are very close to being ready, but more snow is needed.ADNFCR-2803-ID-801503445-ADNFCR