Changes have been made to the Mountain Area Forecast from the Met Office, to make the online service more user friendly. There are some small but worthwhile improvements.
The recent tweaks are based on feedback from a consultation with users. From this the Met Office identified two distinct sets of users, they tell us, so their updates are based on the needs of both casual general walkers and rescue services/mountain pros (which category seems to include all climbers and proper hillwalkers, from what we can establish).
The changes are more evolutionary than revolutionary:
- The mountain service has now been integrated with the Met Office's national severe weather warnings. New graphics on the homepage make the link more explicit between a given forecast area and any weather hazard warnings that have been issued for that area.
- Forecasts are more easily printable, so that walkers can take them on the hill and accommodation providers and outdoor shops can post copies up.
- The pages are now more effective when viewed on a tablet or smartphone too, for easy checking when you're on the go. Great if you're out for several days (assuming there's internet coverage).
- Forecasts are still issued twice daily, but now the forecast period is 24 hours. Previously it only covered the hours of daylight. That's good news for rescue teams, wild campers or anyone doing a 24-hour challenge.
- From the mountain forecast pages you can access individual summit forecasts for over 500 UK hills.
- There's a bunch of notes and videos on mountain safety.
- Clear(ish) link to the Scottish Avalanche Information Service (SAIS).
Now if they can just guarantee dry mountain rock til November, followed by a six-month deep freeze...