Late snow brings whitest Scots summer for 21 years

A snow patch is recorded by Iain Cameron on Creag Meagaidh in the Cairngorms. Picture: Contributed
A snow patch is recorded by Iain Cameron on Creag Meagaidh in the Cairngorms. Picture: Contributed
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Snow may have returned to Scotland’s mountains today, but more of it never went away last summer than in any year since 1994.

A very cool spring when wintry showers continued as late as June was responsible, according to a researcher who counts snow patches.

Iain Cameron, whose work is published by the Royal Meteorological Society, found 73 patches of last winter’s snow survived the year, which were also helped by a cool July and August.

Unusually, they include 12 in the north-west Highlands, away from the highest ranges. They were spotted on either side of Glen Cannich, west of Inverness, and one south of Ullapool.

Nearly half of the patches - 33 - are on Ben Nevis and two adjacent mountains, where Mr Cameron reckons snow depths did not peak until June.

A further 17 are in the Cairngorms, including on Braeriach, which has been without snow only five times since the 1700s.

The latest snowfall today comes nearly two weeks after the first snow of the winter that’s likely to remain for the season.

David Gibson, chief executive of the Mountaineering Council of Scotland, said: “Iain Cameron’s study provides a fascinating insight into snow patches and evidence - if it was needed - of the poor spring and summer ‘enjoyed’ by Scotland’s mountaineers.

“Snow and ice in the mountains can be both challenging and great fun, and the study reminds us that the nature of Scotland’s mountain weather can be unpredictable and testing for even the most experienced mountaineers, especially as more snow is forecast for this weekend.”

Mark Tennant, a trainer with the British Association of Ski Patrollers, said: “I’m not surprised so many snow patches have lasted all through the summer - I had personal experience of them when they caused major problems for some Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award students I was supervising.

“They had difficulty navigating across the Braeriach plateau [in the Cairngorms] due to the extend of the snow still lingering at the end of June and had to change their route due to cornices blocking entry to the corries.”