View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Hurricane update - 5 February

In the southern hemisphere, the cyclone season is cranking up to its high point. At the moment, cyclone Gaël is moving west towards Madagascar, 300 km north of La Reunion. Before the storm reaches the Big Island, it is expected to veer sharply south. Gaël will continue to strengthen, and could reach up to 115 knots in strength - that is equivalent to winds of 210 km/h. The islands of La Reunion and Mauritius are feeling the effects of Gaël, with winds of 100 km/h on exposed coasts of La Reunion, and up to 80 km/h on Mauritius. A swell of 3.5 to 7 metres is running on the north to east coasts of La Reunion. All cyclone warnings are cancelled on Mauritius, but La Reunion remains on Yellow Alert. Malagasy residents are closely monitoring the progress of Gaël, but are not expected to suffer a direct hit; its rainbands and the periphery of the core of winds could affect the east coast of Madagascar. The point where Gaël will veer south is to determine the level of impact on the Big Island, and that is where the uncertainty lies.

Concerned residents of La Reunion, Mauritius and Madagascar should closely follow the 12-hourly updates on the JTWC website, or the 6-hourly updates on the website of RSMC La Reunion (in French).

Thursday 5 February

So, I'm back in Stornoway, and I brought the winter with me. Temperatures down to +2C today, with frequent hail and snow showers. Although there is not much wind, a heavy swell in the Minch is keeping our freight ferry in port.

Elsewhere in the UK, 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 cm) of snow is causing extensive disruption to travel, and ain't I glad not to be among all that now. There is a lot of discussion going on about ineffective gritting and clearing, but if snow is not an annual problem, then there is not much point keeping a huge infrastructure in place to tackle it. Question of priority. However, planning for such an eventuality would make dealing with it a bit easier.

I have resumed my photography using a digital camera, given to me to use by my father.

Tuesday 3 February

Along the M25

In Terminal 5 at Heathrow

Wednesday 4 February

Pitching in the Minch

View from Loch Broom

Thursday 5 February

Thin layer of snow in Stornoway