View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Wednesday, 16 September 2009


Supertyphoon Choi-wan has passed the Northern Marianas islands as a category V storm, with winds of 160 mph. The island of Alamagan received a direct hit yesterday, with winds of 145 to 150 mph. The 15 residents there are all safe, including an infant aged 4 days. Although there appears to have been some damage to homes and infrastructure, nobody is reported hurt across the island chain.

Choi-wan is continuing on its west-northwesterly course, maintaining its category V status for the next day or so. The storm will curve away north and northeast, losing its strength in the face of the mid-latitude jetstreams.

Wednesday 16 September

Quite a bright day with good sunny intervals, but with a cool northwesterly breeze. Yesterday, there was good news when the rocket testing range in South Uist, 80 miles south of here, was saved from closure. Proposals had been put forward to reduce the site, with the potential loss of 125 jobs. That would have been a hammerblow for a community of only a few thousand, where jobs are already at a premium. When the range was opened in the 1950s, people protested against its coming. It's slightly strange to note the bruhaha against its possible closure. The initial plans would have saved the Ministry of Defense some £50m ($30m); but the redundancy payments and potential jobless benefits would have outweighed that. The politics surrounding this issue are interesting on a local level, but I won't bore you with that just now.

I couldn't help noticing that the Australian navy has intercepted a boat full of migrants some 400 miles north of its western coasts. The 60 potential asylum seekers were duly taken to Christmas Island, 1500 miles northwest of Australia. I am noting this event, as there have been 4 such incidents in just the past week; and there has been an outburst of overt racism down under against immigrants of any sort, legal, illegal, long in the country or not. Local media carry an assessment of the political situation that has arisen as a result.