THIS week saw the first snow fall on the high Cairngorms this season amid snow patches in Scotland predicted to not survive through winter.

Ben Macdui and Braeriach both reported to have snow dusting on Friday morning.

After a summer of heatwaves many snow patches in Scotland have melted away. In some years long lying snow patches can persist all summer and in some locations lasting through to the next winter.

Snowy weather is historically unlikely in Cairngorm in the middle of September but on average there are three days during this week each year when it rains. It was a jet stream of cool air ran over Scotland this week which effectively transported cool air south from the Arctic at 1.5km above sea level, allowing rain to fall as snow on high ground. 

Ben Macdui, the highest of the Cairngorms, is often the most likely place to be able to see the first snow.

The Cairngorm summit on Friday morning. Image: Antonio SequeiraCairngorm summit covered in snow. Image: Antonio Sequeira

Patches of snow extant on the hills have been counted by hikers on the 20 August every year since 2008. The number of patches this year was only 10, the third lowest on record. By September 11, Ben Nevis was snow-free. The last patch of snow on Ben Nevis likely melted in the previous 24 hours and at this point there were just three patches left in Scotland.

Survival of the long lying snow patches in 2022 are looking increasingly unlikely. In 1994, the Cairngorms and surrounding mountains of north-east Scotland had 55 surviving patches, an exceptional number. The remaining three this year are called Sphinx, Pinnacles and Aonach Beag.