Weather in Grampian - Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Moray
There is an old saying, "If you donn't like the Scottish weather, wait 5 minutes - it'll change!"
Well, read on to find what you can expect from the weather in Grampian, north east Scotland.
The mean daily sunshine figures for Grampian reach a maximum in June, and are at their lowest in December. Wind and cloud play their part, but the key factor is the variation in the length of the day through the year. The relatively high latitude of north east Scotland means that although winter days are very short, this is amply compensated by long summer days with an extended twilight. On the longest day there is no complete darkness in the very north of Scotland.
There is a general misconception that the whole of Scotland experiences high rainfall. In fact, rainfall in Scotland varies widely, with distribution closely related to the topography. Rainfall ranging from over 3,000 mm per year in the western Highlands to under 800 mm per year near the east coast i.e.Grampian. (Note that rainfall also includes snow, which is melted and measured as rainfall.) Typically, measurable rainfall (an amount of 0.2 mm or more) occurs around 175 days per year in Grampian. So yes, you will need a rain jacket, but you may not have to wear it as often as you first thought.
The prevailing wind direction in Scotland, and in Grampian, is from the south-west, but the wind direction often changes markedly from day to day with the passage of weather systems. In the Grampian mountains local topography also has a significant effect, with winds tending to blow along well-defined valleys. In general, wind speed increases with height, with the strongest winds being observed over the summits of hills and mountains. Since many of the major Atlantic depressions pass close to or over Scotland, the frequency of strong winds and gales is slightly higher than in other parts of the United Kingdom.
The Grampian mean annual air temperature at low altitude is about 8 °C. Normally temperature decreases by approximately 0.6 °C for each 100 m rise in height so that over the high ground temperatures are generally colder. To a large extent, winter temperature is influenced by the surface temperature of the surrounding sea, and as the North Sea is cooler than the waters off the west coast, the east coast is generally slightly cooler in winter than the west coast.
In general, January and February are the coldest months. The daytime maximum temperatures over low ground is around 6 °C, but on rare occasions in the lee of high ground, temperatures can reach up to around 15 °C when a moist south or south-westerly airflow warms up after crossing the mountains, an effect known as the Foehn after its more dramatic manifestations in the Alps.
The coldest nights are those on which there is little wind, skies are clear, and there is a covering of snow on the ground. The lowest temperatures occur in inland Moray and Aberdeenshire, away from the moderating influence of the sea, in valleys into which the cold air drains. Braemar in Aberdeenshire holds the record for the lowest recorded temperature in Scotland (and Britain), minus 27.2 °C on 10 January 1982.
July and August are normally the warmest months. The highest temperatures normally occur inland, away from the moderating influence of the cooler sea. Aboyne, in particular, is well known for having high temperatures - worth knowing if you are thinking of visiting the Aboyne Bike Park.
Grampian does get it's fair share of clouds, due mainly to the hilly nature of the area and the proximity of low-pressure systems from the Atlantic. The dullest parts are in the Grampian mountains and the more hilly areas. Having said that, you can expect in excess of 160 hours per month of bright sunshine weather in Grampian during the summer months (May to August).
The number of thunderstorms can vary widely from year to year, but in general the northern and eastern coasts of Scotland average only three or four days with thunder per year.
It does snow in the Grampians. The average number of days with sleet or snow falling in Scotland ranges from around 20 or less near the west coast to over 100 days in the Cairngorm Mountains and some other high peaks. In Aberdeenshire and Moray snow rarely lies on the ground at sea level before November or after April.
Snow lies on average for around 15 to 25 days at low levels in Grampian, and can lie for more than 50 days a year in the mountains. Serious difficulties with roads blocked by snow are, fortunately, not common on low ground, but some higher roads in the area are regularly affected each year e.g. our classic road climbs over The Lecht, and The Cairn O'Mount are often blocked by snow.
The Grampian weather provides excellent visibility, due to it's remoteness from the industrial and populous areas of Scotland and mainland Europe. Frequently, however, cloud with a very low base can shroud high ground with hill fog. The resulting low visibility, especially if further reduced by drizzle, can pose a hazard for cyclists.
Sea fog from the North Sea, known locally as "haar", sometimes ruins what would otherwise be a fine day on or near the coast, between April and September. Venture a few miles in land and the there is no sign of the haar.
Staying Warm on Your Bike
Winter in the north east of Scotland can be cold. But don't let that put you off getting out on your bike.
Here are our tips on how you can stay warm whilst enjoying cycling through the winter months.
The A-Z of Curious Aberdeenshire
Travelling to North East Scotland
The north east of Scotland may seem remote, but in fact it is very easy to get to Grampian. The region, and Aberdeen in particular, is well served by train, coach, air and ferry. And once here, travelling around is really easy.
Aberdeenshire & Moray have loads of places to stay, ranging from hostels through B&s and Guest Houses to 5 star hotels. Some are more in tune with the needs of cyclists than others. Those that are tend to be members of the Cyclists Welcome Scheme - look out for the logo when booking accommodation.