View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Hurricane update (2) - 16 August

Tropical storm Claudette is continuing to move north towards the coast of the Florida Panhandle. It carries winds of up to 50 mph, which will continue to strengthen until landfall, expected around midnight EDT. Winds of 40 mph or higher occur within 70 miles of Claudette's centre, meaning that a tropical storm warning has been declared from the Florida / Alabama border to the Suwannee River. This means that TS conditions are expected within 24 hours. Coastal storm surge flooding of 3 to 5 feet above normal tidal levels along the coast of the Florida Panhandle and the Big Bend.

Please note Claudette is NOT a hurricane; its current winds equate to force 10 on the Beaufort scale.

Please note That this information is a summary from the NHC, and full details must be obtained from the NHC website.

Gundamain on AIS

AIS (Automatic Identification System) is a system which logs the location, course, destination and speed of most ships over 300 tons. I am an avid user of its reflection on the Internet,, particularly to find out about ships in my area. Stornoway is not a busy port, so any unknown vessel has me running to the window. This afternoon, nothing is coming or going (apart from the ferry), but AIS shows the following - the boat I'm on about is highlighted in yellow.

The view from the window shows this

My attention was on the large yacht, the Gundamain, which you can see against the backdrop of the hills. Its description as a 2,159 gross tonnage oil products tanker is patently wrong. Just wondering if anyone who reads my Twitter feed or this blog could drop them a line to correct their settings.

Edit: The IMO number refers to the tanker Janet C, pictures of which now feature on AIS in connection with this yacht.

Sunday 16 August

Today's weather is a lot better than yesterday's, with the sun out, a moderate breeze and (as yet) not rain. The radar shows rain moving away east. It's not often we get a full, 24 hour, dose of rain, contrary to the Western Isles' reputation - but it does happen.

A pharmacist from southern England has published an Open Letter to the Americans, with regard to the current debate on healthcare in the USA. All I can say is that I hope the current frank discussion that is taking place across the pond will result in a healthcare system that is fair, accessible and affordable to all. Including the 47 million who currently don't have that.

Hurricane update - 16 August

The Atlantic hurricane season has turned into the proverbial number 11 bus service: you wait for ages for one to come, and then three all come at once. Let's have a look.

Tropical storm Ana, a bit of a ragged affair 560 miles east of the Leeward Islands, is making steady progress west and will affect the islands on Monday. Rain appears to be the main danger, although 40 knots of wind (that's force 9 on the Beaufort scale) cannot be dismissed.

Tropical storm Bill is more than 1,500 miles east of the Leeward Islands, and is expected to pass to their north as a category III hurricane on Wednesday or Thursday.

Tropical depression 04L (soon to be Claudette) has sprung up in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico, 150 miles south of Apalachicola and is moving north towards the Gulf coast. Winds are expected to rise to 45 knots (that's close on force 10), rainfall up to 10 inches and a 3 to 5 feet storm surge. If you're in the Panhandle, please monitor the 3-hourly output from NHC for updates and warnings.

The Pacific is not quiet either, but for the moment nothing is threatening land. Guillermo is blowing himself out more than 1,000 miles east of Hawaii, and will not affect that state; Maka is in the middle of nowhere (hundreds of miles from Wake Island, if you can find that on a map), although a 75 knot typhoon (by Wednesday) is always worth watching. And something is brewing northeast of the Polynesian island of Pohnpei (again, get the atlas out). If interested, keep an eye on the Joint Typhoon Warning Center's website.

For reference: a typhoon is the same as a hurricane.