View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Afternoon notes

This morning's gale is abating and the sun is trying to come out. The ferry will return from Ullapool at its usual time, after being tied up there since arriving this morning. The cargoship Red Duchess, which has been discharging a cargo of road salt, departed first thing in the morning and was last spotted on AIS headed down the Little Minch, east of Skye.

Three years ago, a huge fire destroyed a fuel depot at Buncefield in Hertfordshire, north of London. As a result, a critical eye was cast over the fuel depot (pictured above) on Shell Street, in the heart of Stornoway. Several alternatives have been considered, but the current economic climate has delayed any action on relocation.

One could be Glumag Harbour, across the bay from my position, where the Arnish Fabrication Yard stands.

The other would be the unused fuel tanks at Stornoway Airport, left over from NATO times during the Cold War. A jetty (shown above) is already in place there for a tanker to dock.

Wednesday 17 December

The day started with a fierce lightning storm just after midnight. The path of the storm was easily mapped, when the lightning began to strike the electricity pylons which run into the Arnish Substation from the south. Some of the discharges were within half a mile of my position (as it took less than 3 seconds between lightning and thunder). The final bolt was accompanied by half-inch hailstones. Winter is the most likely time we're likely to see thunder; it occurs when the temperature in the cloudtops is 40 degrees C lower than down at groundlevel. At the moment, there is heavy rain and strong winds (force 7). The ferry is not sailing; at present it is tied up at Ullapool. The 5.15 sailing out of Ullapool is under review. Judging by the forecast (winds up to force 9), it will probably be cancelled as well.