Weather

Braemar’s distinctive weather claim is that on two occasions it was the coldest village in Scotland, having twice recorded the lowest temperature -27.2c (-17 F). Braemar has also one of the longest ‘continuous’ sets of recorded weather data in Scotland, recording starting here nearly 150 years ago. The original observatory, consisting mostly of a large-louvred wooden erection was donated by Prince Albert in 1855. It is still standing though no longer used for weather recording. The current weather station is only feet away from the original.

Mr Aitken - a bank agent - was appointed the first observer. He kept up the observations for more than 50 years. On completing half a century of observations in 1905, he received a letter of thanks and appreciation from King Edward VII. Soon afterwards, Mr Aitken retired from active work and the thermometers were transferred to Balmoral. In 1911 a local committee raised the funds for the re-opening of the climatological station. The records at the station were traditionally kept by the Manager or ‘Agent’ of the Union Bank (now the Bank of Scotland) just a few yards across the main road. The tradition was continued through to 1980 when James Donaldson retired after being recorder for 22 years. Ricky Graham, headmaster of Braemar School, was the ‘weatherman’ for the next 19 years and recorded the record low temperature on 10th January 1982. (The same temperature had previously been recorded on 11th February 1895.)   As at other stations the weather observer records the weather conditions and notes various air and soil temperatures, plus rainfall and amount of sunshine.

A sunshine recorder was set up in the top of the tower of St. Margaret’s Church in 1962. Although this tower is easily the most suitable spot for the sunshine recorder, the length of the Braemar ‘day’ is affected by shadow from the surrounding hills. Indeed, in mid-winter the maximum daily sunshine is no more than about 3.5 hours!

Typically in July the day time temperature rises to 17.6c and the night time temperature falls to 8.5c. In January typical high and low temperatures are 3.7c and -2.3c. Because of the hills protecting Braemar, the rainfall is not as great as might be expected averaging 890mm (35in) annually with the winter months being somewhat wetter than the summer months. Of course, in winter some of the precipitation comes in the form of snow which can be expected in the village anytime between November and April. The ski slopes at the Lecht and Glenshee, being somewhat higher than Braemar, can usually offer skiing from mid-January through to mid-March although the length and quality of the ski seasons vary markedly from year to year.