View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Height of the storm

Winds of 103 mph, curtains of seaspray flying in. Metal penals blown off a gate, flown away to heaven knows where. Lethal projectiles in this weather. Bin fell over full of bottles, cannot go outside to investigate, too dangerous. Streetlights failing here and there, can't see the Coastguard Station lights (200 yards away) at times through spray.

Remembering Today - 17 January

On this day in the First World War, these two men from the Isle of Lewis lost their lives in the service of King & Country. RIP.

Last address in Lewis: Seaforth House, 23 Scotland Street, Stornoway
Son of Mr. and Mrs. Murdo Matheson, of 72, Church St., Ayr, Scotland. Native of Stornaway, Isle of Lewis.
Regiment or division: 20th Canadian Infantry (Central Ontario Regiment)
Service number: 57775
Date of death: 17 January 1917 at the age of 36
Killed in action
Interred: Maroc British Cemetery, Grenay
Memorial reference: I. M. 17
Local memorial: Lewis War Memorial

Last address in Lewis: 20 Crowlista,
Son of Donald and Margaret Macdonald, of 20, Crowlista, Miavaig, Stornoway, Ross-shire.
Regiment or division: Merchant Marine, SS Windsor Hall
Service number: 3911/A
Date of death: 17 January 1918 at the age of 28
Ship sunk by torpedo
Memorial: Chatham Naval
Memorial reference: 30
Lewis Memorial: Uig, Timsgarry

Stormy night

The wind has picked up since about 7.30pm, and at last reading (8.20pm) was blowing at 56 mph, with gusts to 78 mph. Bits and pieces flying about, some streetlights are out. One person was killed when her car was struck by a falling tree in Northern Ireland earlier on. The automated weatherstation at Eoropie, near the Butt of Lewis (25 miles north of here) ceased to transmit data about 10 minutes ago.

The public advice is for people to stay inside and not to travel. Bus services here in Lewis stopped running at 6pm. The height of the storm will coincide with high tide between 10 and 12 o'clock tonight, which may also cause problems.

Here we go

From 7pm onwards, this severe weather warning applies to us:

Severe gale or storm force winds are expected over the Hebrides and the western fringes of the mainland later today and tonight. Gusts of 90 to 100mph are likely with some disruption to power supplies and transport, and danger to life.

17 January

My attention is focused on an Atlantic low-pressure system that is currently heading our way. Its central pressure will deepen from 980 mbar at midnight last night to 945 mbar tonight. That's a very fast rate of development, and the weather charts tell me to expect very high winds. Gusts to 90 mph are forecast for the night. We're battening down the hatches up here. At the moment, it is bright and sunny, with a stiff breeze from the south. It is cold, only +4C. I know, over in the States there are places down to -35C at the moment (that's -30F).

The search for the 21-year old Merchant Navy cadet, missing since Boxing Day, continues in South Uist. The official search has been called off, but individual islanders are still going round.

The credit crunch is a prominent piece of news at the moment, and it is already having quite a serious effect on the economy. Chains of highstreet stores are closing down every day, car producers are feeling the pinch. And in the last four months ago, the oil producing nations around the Arabian peninsula have lost 2.5 trillion dollars in revenue. I am desperately searching for my ounce of compassion.