View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Friday, 12 March 2010

Friday 12 March

A sunny if slightly cool day in the Western Isles, so I lent someone a hand in painting some pieces of outside wood that needed painting. I'm not much use up a ladder, but managed to finish the job without mishap. Have continued to monitor the two tropical cyclones in the South Pacific; the people in Fiji are beginning to get concerned at what is going to wallop them late on Sunday their time. Up to the time of posting, just over 800 people have now visited my TC blog. The highest one-day total goes back to March 2007, when cyclone Gamede made ominous noises at Mauritius and La Reunion in the Indian Ocean, and 2,300 people called round to check for developments.

Here in the Western Isles, a war of words is raging between two writers on the subject of Sabbath observance. It is quite a personal strife, and the issue in general has polluted the letters column of local news site Hebrides News over the last few weeks. A campaign to get the Stornoway Sports Centre to open on Sunday lies at the root of all the unpleasantness.

A campaign to reinstate a ferry between Lochboisdale in South Uist and Mallaig on the mainland continues apace. At present, Lochboisdale is served by a ferry from Oban, which takes 7 hours to cross. The journey to Mallaig only takes 3½ hours, and since the A830 road from Mallaig to Fort William was reverted from single- to double-track, the shorter journey time across water easily offsets the added mileage by road. It is 90 miles from Oban to Glasgow, and 145 from Mallaig to Glasgow.

Hurricane update - 12 March

The South Pacific has come to life with two tropical cyclones in relative proximity to each other.

Tomas is brewing up to the east of American Samoa and will be carrying sustained winds of 110 knots (that's a trifling 125 mph) as it ploughs through the entire Fijian archipelago on Sunday GMT. Fiji is 12 hours ahead of GMT, hence my addition of the timezone. Since midnight, I have received nearly 600 visitors to my tropical cyclones blog half of whom came from Fiji. They have every reason to be concerned: Tomas will be equivalent to a category III hurricane on the Saffir Simpson scale. Those readers who are in Hurricane Alley in the States will know what damage that does.

Vanuatu is at the back end of tropical cyclone 20P, to be named Vania, which is moving west into the Coral Sea to the north of New Caledonia. The storm will intensify to the equivalent of a category IV hurricane - far away from land. As yet. Vanuatu lies about 1100 miles northeast of Brisbane, Australia.

The tropical cyclone in the South Atlantic looks decidedly unhealthy on this morning's satellite imagery. It is lying 900 miles to the east of Montevideo in Uruguay and will disappear as a tropical cyclone fairly soon.