Over the last few days, there’s been great concern over the future of the Mountain Weather Information Service (MWIS), following a statement from the service’s founder and forecaster, Geoff Monk, published on his site on Saturday.
“The most-used mountain weather service in the UK, the Mountain Weather Information Service, is set to close after sportscotland, the Scottish Government sporting body, withdraws funding and walks away from a key mountain forecast collaboration project,” claimed Geoff, setting in train a succession of lively social media posts and the launch of at least two online petitions.
As The Great Outdoors’ Gear Editor and backpacking expert Chris Townsend eloquently expressed on his blog, “Whatever the causes of the dispute that is obviously going on it needs resolving fast. The first winter storms will soon be here. Given the amount of work Geoff Monks has put into MWIS it would be a shame if the service ceases. What is most important though is that we continue to have a dedicated mountain weather forecast service at least as good as MWIS. Nothing else is acceptable. This is a safety issue.”
At the weekend, sportscotland responded to Geoff Monk’s statement, criticising his “disappointing and misleading claim” but failing to refute the suggestion that funding would be withdrawn from MWIS at the end of 2017. Cue widespread speculation on social media…
Sportscotland has now followed up on its initial statement in a post on its Facebook page:
“Reassurances have been issued to the mountaineering and outdoor communities that critical mountain weather reporting remains secure not just for the coming winter, but on a long-term basis. sportscotland has moved to reassure the mountaineering community that the provision of a high-quality weather forecasting service will continue and was always going to continue.
“The reassurance is offered by sportscotland in light of the confusion circulating on social media. sportscotland will discuss with MWIS the provision of their service through this coming winter to ensure this familiar forecast format is available at a time when participation within the Scottish mountains peaks.”
The post concludes: “MWIS has been integral to the discussion around future mountain weather reporting and we would welcome the opportunity to resume conversations with them. We hope that MWIS will meet with sportscotland, Met Office and representatives from Mountaineering Scotland, to continue the discussions around the exciting plans, which are aimed at enhancing the future safety of all those who are active in Scotland’s hills and mountains.”
We’re not entirely reassured but await further feedback from Geoff Monk at MWIS and will keep readers informed as we hear more.
You can read more of our coverage on the issue here.