IT’S the time of year when you expect to wrap up warm and hibernate for the Christmas period.
But temperatures have soared close to record levels over the weekend as forecasters recorded a balmy 16.2C in Kintail and 15C in Edinburgh yesterday.
These mild conditions come close to the UK December record, of 18.3C at Achnashellach, west of Inverness, in 1948.
It comes after parts of Scotland were colder than Antarctica last weekend, with the mercury plummeting to -8.7C in the tiny Highland village of Dalwhinnie, in Badenoch and Strathspey.
The icy temperature is the coldest recorded so far this winter in Scotland.
The recent unseasonably warm conditions are caused by a south-westerly wind whipping into Scotland from the Canary Islands and the Azores off the coast of Portugal and North Africa, said Steven Keates, a Met Office meteorologist.
He said: “It is not going to be as warm as it was at the end of the week, but we have seen temperatures around 15C which is still very warm for this time of year.
“Across mainland Scotland it has been ranging between 13C to right up to 16C.
“I would not be surprised if some local records have been broken.”
The weather across Scotland is expected to turn over the next few days with lower temperatures expected over the Christmas weekend, he said.
“We are expecting much more normal temperatures for this time of year over the next few days and into Christmas.”
A band of rain will move across the west Highlands and heavy rain from the north of England will move upwards into the Borders, causing river levels to rise, he warned.
Keates added: “It is going to feel a bit colder and there is hope that some of the mountains might get a dusting of snow.”
The abnormally warm weather has scuppered chances of any festive winter sports, as all five of Scotland’s ski resorts may remain closed until the New Year.
The Scottish Avalanche Information Service has reported a low risk of avalanche in six danger zones, including Lochaber, Craigh Meagaidh, Torridon and the Cairngorms.
The service reported “significant snow loss” since Friday at Craigh Meagaidh, near Fort William, with a moderate risk of avalanche due to the quickly melting snow, and patchy snow coverage across all other Scottish resorts.
There is still hope for snow on the mountains this Christmas, said Ross Coulter, a spokesperson for Natural Retreats at Cairngorm Mountain.
He said: “It’s been a bit of an uncertain start this year, as the temperatures been very changeable.
“At the beginning of last week we had eight inches of snow and now we have had these warmer temperatures.
“What we need for skiing is a sustained period of low temperatures to make sure the ground hardens up and freezes so the snow can settle.
“We are looking at a prolonged period of lower temperatures going into Christmas, which is quite nice for us.”
He added: “The mountain could be white for Christmas.”
Motorists are urged to take care due to high winds across most of the country.