September snow in Cairngorms could be signal of another bitter winter
Laura Coventry – Daily Record September 28, 2010
SNOWFALL in the Cairngorms on Saturday - before the end of offical British Summer Time - have sparked fears we could be facing another long, cold winter.
Temperatures in the Highland mountain range plummeted below freezing as a couple of inches of snow fell at the weekend despite it still being September.
Other parts of Scotland also suffered their coldest September temperatures for nearly 30 years as double figures sank to below zero and frost appeared.
Kinbrace in the Highlands was the chilliest place, recording a temperature of -4.4C, while Loch Glascarnoch had its lowest September since 1993, at -2.6C.
STV weatherman Sean Batty says we must look at what's been happening during the summer months as well as what's happening now to predict the type of winter we have in store.
He said: "Whether we have a mild, wet winter or a cold and dry winter is down to the jet stream.
"Last year it was mostly down towards the Mediterranean, which gave places like Gibraltar their wettest winter on record. That was the weather we would normally get but it was driven south. Everything to the north of us came down, hence it was colder.
"Generally during the summer we've had 'blocking highs' - areas of high pressure - sitting close to the UK. That could mean there could be a disturbance to the jet.
"If things don't change over the next month or so, the way things are set up just now, there's a fairly decent chance we could have another cold and possibly snowy winter ahead of us.
"We will need to keep an eye on the jet stream to see where it's going next. If it goes south over the Mediterranean, we'll get a cold winter but if it stays over the UK we will get mild and wet.
"At the moment it does look like there's a good possibility we'll have another cold, snowy winter."
A couple of weeks ago, Positive Weather Solutions' Jonathan Powell predicted Saturday's snow.
He said: "It's rare for snow to fall in September, but we're seeing the mirror image of the late winter snow we had in May."
The weather patterns we are experiencing are similar to that of September 1919, when there was a cold snap with snow on low ground.
Just last week the cold weather saw the two-mile swimming event at Loch Muick on Balmoral Estate cancelled due to "unseasonable" water temperatures.
Last year was the coldest winter Britain had experienced in 31 years. Then, the first snow of the season fell on October 4 and paved the way for one of the more severe winters of the last 100 years.
Winter 2009-2010 was exceptional in terms of severity and duration and saw temperatures drop to -20C. But it wasn't all bad news, it was perfect skiing and snowboarding weather.
CairnGorm Mountain reported their best Christmas holiday season in 14 years. Colin Kirkwood, marketing executive at CairnGorm Mountain, is hoping it will be another successful winter.
He said: "Everybody else's bad winter is a good winter for us.
"We'd have 50,000-60,000 skiers in a normal year - we had 145,000 last year, so that gives you a measure of how exceptional it was, and yet three years ago we only had 38,000. Having had the best and worst in a four-year period makes it difficult to forecast."
Last updated 03/10/2010