Chasing cloud inversions
QHow can I give myself the best chance to see a cloud inversion? Abi Best●ey, York
Cloud inversions have to be one of the most marvelled weather phenomena to witness in the mountains, and it takes more than just chance to see one. Cloud inversions occur when there is the perfect mix of high pressure and cold temperatures, so dense, cool air gets trapped below a thinner layer of warm atmosphere. Though rare, it is possible to maximise the likelihood of catching a cloud inversion by waiting for the optimal conditions.
The best time of year to catch such inversions (also known as ‘top clear days’) is through autumn and winter. Keeping an eye on the weather forecast before your walk is paramount, with ideal conditions requiring high pressure, little or no wind, and zero precipitation. You can also boost your chances by choosing the right hill. A summit that is neighboured by sheltered valleys that draw in and trap the damp, cold air will be a good bet, as will a peak that is surrounded by a plateau. Lastly, it’s important to get up top early! Reaching the summit before sunrise will give you the best chance to spot a cloud inversion, before the low-lying mist lifts or evaporates.