Why does snow do what it does?

2nd February 2015

It was another pleasant wintery day in Glen Coe. As was the case with Saturday there was pretty reasonable visibility in Glen Coe while the hill just to the North in Lochaber were clogged in. As mentioned elsewhere, the distribution of and stability windslab is quite variable. I was in an similar area of the Glen as I had been on Friday, and I saw plenty of evidence of redistribution of the snowpack since then (including my own raised footprints).

As a forecaster I spent a fair bit of time thinking about why snow does what it does, and today was no exception. Looking South to the bridge of Orchy Hills, there was a distinct horizontal line where the hillside was more scoured above. I thought of a few different theories as to why this might by. The most likely explanation (to me) is this is a temperature affect, caused by the fact that below this level the snow, when it fell, was damp enough to stick to the vegetation, while above it was dry enough to be blown off.


Looking back down Glen Coe. Not a bad view.


Looking South to the Bridge of Orchy hills. Notice the distinct change in whiteness just above the forestry block. What caused that?


Clach Leathad. Notice the cornices in the foreground.



Raised footprints. These were actually my footprints from Friday, there has been a fair bit of wind erosion in this location since then.


Natural snow art.



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