View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Tuesday 4 December

A fairly bright day, but continuing to feel very cold in the north wind. There were a few showers about, which did not help the temperatures; only 5C as a high. Major problems were experienced by drivers, caught out by black ice. Frozen roads look deceptively like wet roads, and people were relying on their in-car temperature gauges. Thinking that 4C is OK, they found themselves off the road at Balallan in Lewis and Luskentyre in Harris.

I still prefer our cold snap to the 160 mph winds that were experienced in eastern Mindanao, Philippines over the past 24 hours. In spite of the category V typhoon, the death toll in the Philippines appears to be relatively low. Preparations seem to have prevented a major loss of life, which so often is the case in the country. The Philippines, on average, sees about 20 tropical cyclones annually. The season is winding down over there, as the southern hemisphere season is beginning.

Sunset was at 3.40pm today, but we were treated to a very colourful display in Stornoway.

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Monday 3 December

A fairly overcast and cold day, with the mercury at 6C at the most. The news was dominated by the Duchess of Cambridge (also known as the Countess of Strathearn in Scotland), who had to be admitted to hospital with a severe form of morning sickness - in other words, she is expecting, but less than 12 weeks into the pregnancy. What I don't particularly like is that the news bulletins are taken over by this news, however happy for the couple involved.

I am keeping a close eye on the progression of supertyphoon Bopha / Pablo, as it prepares to slam into the Philippine island of Mindanao. The storm carries winds of 140 knots, which is 160 mph, gusting to 170 knots or 190 mph. Apart from the extreme wind, this also carries the risk of heavy rains, which (in the Philippines) carry the added hazard of life-threatening mudslides and flash floods. On Sunday, Bopha caused damage in the archipelago of Palau, 450 miles east of the Philippines.

A linesman who was assisting at an amateur football game in Amsterdam was kicked to death by three of the players on Sunday. The culprits, aged 15 and 16, have been arrested and will face court proceedings. A huge discussion has erupted in the Netherlands over violence in society, and particularly at football matches. Dutch football was long plagued by hooliganism, but the age of the players involved in this incident has hit a raw nerve. RIP Richard Nieuwenhuizen.