Winter is coming. As the leaves begin to fall and the days draw shorter, which areas of Scotland will the winter chill be most keenly felt?
Residents of northern Scotland in the communities of Inverness and Altnaharra should perhaps consider hibernation over the coming months.
While the Met Office declines to provide seasonal forecasts in favour of monthly assessments, their data relating to the winter of 2015 helps shed some light on some of the likely candidates for Scotland’s coldest location.
Their scientific assessments accurately predicted the coldest day of winter was January 19 this year, with temperatures falling as low as -15C across the north of Scotland. This bitter chill was still some way off the UK’s lowest recorded temperature of -27.2C, recorded at Altnaharra in the Highlands on 30 December 1995 and shared with Braemar on 10 January 1982 in the Grampians.
The average number of days of air and ground frost in the Scottish mountains sits at 80 and 140 days respectively. It is therefore highly likely that these regions will experience another freeze this winter, due to their comparatively high altitudes and vulnerability to gusting winds.
Inverness can expect to be one of the country’s coldest cities, with wildly fluctuating average temperatures.
Historically speaking, January and February tend to be Scotland’s coldest months with mean daily temperatures ranging from approximately -1C to 2C across the nation. Last year’s winter saw an above-average temperature for December with a mere 0.5C increase in this time. Temperatures across Glasgow and Edinburgh stayed in line with these averages, suggesting that central belt cities will escape most of the chill this year.
However, winter sports enthusiasts will be hoping for a return of the heavy snow that hit northern parts of western Scotland in January and February this year, with Glencoe, Aviemore and the Cairngorms all anticipating a good season ahead.