View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Friday, 20 November 2009

Wet feet - day 2

A police constable has drowned in the floods, which have swept the Lake District this week. PC Bill Baxter was crossing a bridge as it collapsed under him. His body washed up on the shores of the Irish Sea, a few miles from Workington from where he was swept away. Moments before, he had stopped a bus and tanker lorries from crossing the bridge in the A597 road, which runs along the coast of Cumbria.

Hundreds of people were evacuated by helicopter from Cockermouth, east of Workington, as the two rivers that converge at the town rose. Waterlevels in the main street reached 8 feet, and late last night, the water flowed at an estimated 20 to 25 mph. The water has now receded, leaving behind an indescribable mess.

Other places affected by flooding include Keswick and Kendal, in the Lake District, as well as Langholm and Dumfries in southern Scotland. The rainfall totals reached 15 inches in 24 hours; one third of the annual rainfall total for London. It was brought on by a front, which ground to a halt over northwestern England, pumping huge amounts of moisture from the tropics northeast to the British Isles. Another low pressure system is moving in, but this will scoot through with force 9 gales in the northwest (i.e. my neck of the woods).

My sympathies go out to PC Baxter and his family of 4 children, his colleagues and friends.

Second Life

Second Life, a virtual world, was all the hype some 3 years ago. The BBC was wondering if it is still a hype. No, is the simple answer.

I joined SL in 2006, but found it a singularly awkward set-up to handle. Apart from that, the folk whose avatars I came across were unpleasant, unhelpful and rude. I was not prepared to spend money on a site like that, and certainly not if there was not going to be any interest. I know someone who is doing a lot on SL, but was not really prepared to help, was in fact condescending about my professed lack of knowledge or perceived difficulties. It is a niche set-up for the select few - and I'm avoiding the word anorak here.

Friday 20 November

A showery day in the isles today, but nothing as compared to the massive floods in Cumbria, NW England. Up to 370 mm, 14 inches, fell in the mountains there, and all this water had to go somewhere. Like turning into a 20 mph torrent in the streets of Cockermouth and washing away bridges (like at Workington on the coast). At the moment, a search is underway for a policeman who went missing in the collapse of a bridge at Workington overnight. The imagery on TV last night was unbelieveable, and it is worse in daylight. More rain is on the way in from the Atlantic, with high winds.

I am pleased with the appointment of Herman van Rompuy as president of the EU. Van Rompuy was appointed Prime Minister of Belgium a year ago, after attempts to form a national government ran into protracted difficulties. He was brought in as a safe pair of hands, and if he has been able to keep the perennially frought politics of Belgium in line, then he can also sort the EU out.

More later.