View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Hurricane update - 9 February

The South Pacific is seeing one tropical cyclone after the other this season. After Oli, there is now Pat. This system, a strong category I hurricane, will pass through the South Cook Islands, along the 159th degree longitude west. Northwest of American Samoa, another tropical disturbance is brewing up and I wouldn't be surprised to see yet another cyclone on the maps by this time tomorrow.

The South Pacific is home to a scattering of small islands, but in the three or four years that I've been monitoring hurricanes, there have never been this many systems passing through. The reason is the current El Nino situation, which brings elevated seawater temperatures in the western and central Pacific Ocean. El Nino is now abating - which is not good news for the Atlantic hurricane season. The strange coincidence is that El Nino tends to suppress the formation of hurricanes in the Atlantic, so 2010 might see a more lively season than 2009.

Picture post

Sunset 9 February

Piece of cake, anyone?

Gloves drying on the line

Tuesday 9 February

Today is the fifth anniversary of my stint here in Stornoway. It is a bright day, but we already had a shower on one side of the house. Our regular ferryboat, the MV Isle of Lewis has returned from its refit. The relief boat Clansman is on its way across from Ullapool. Will see whether it will also do the afternoon / evening run; probably will.

Two years ago, a British Airways Boeing 777 crash landed at Heathrow Airport due to the formation of ice crystals in its fuel systems. Fortunately, nobody was seriously hurt. The pilot, who no longer flies, tells of his experience. It was indeed miraculous that there were no casualties.

Having had pretty extensive flying experience in the past 21 months, albeit on small planes and short routes, I am of course aware of the inherent risk of flying. As I was waiting for my first flight last Tuesday, the television screen at Amsterdam Airport showed footage of plane crashes. I think I left a comment on Twitter, saying that is not something I prefer to watch while waiting for a flight. However, back in 1987, the Herald of Free Enterprise ferry sank at Zeebrugge. A few months later, I was due to cross the North Sea on another ferry service, and people asked me if I wasn't scared to sail. No. If anything happens, it will, and it is safer to take a ferry, or take a plane, than it is to cross the road or drive a car.

More later.