View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Monday, 6 October 2014

Sunday 5 October

It's all go on the typhoon front. Phanfone is headed for Tokyo, which it is set to pommel at category 1 strength during rush hour tomorrow morning; and Vongfong is making a beeline for Guam and surrounding islands as a category 3 typhoon - winds of about 100 knots. After that, it will strengthen further to 130 knots before heading north, for Japan.

In the eastern Pacific, Simon was a major hurricane (> 100 knots), but is now weakening, en route for Baja California. Its attendant rains will reach Arizona and New Mexico next weekend. That's the third tropical system to soak the desert southwest of the USA.

The heavy rains of Phanfone may well have contributed to an accident at the Japanese Formula 1 Grand Prix, where one driver ploughed into a support vehicle on the track, leaving him critically ill in hospital with brain injuries.

Was watching a cormorant drying its wings at lunchtime, until the tide flooded his perch.

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The weather today was filthy, with plenty of wind and rain. The ferry company decided to retime its sailings to and from Ullapool, putting them forward by three and a half hours. Then, not as scheduled, the boat went back to Ullapool at 6pm, where it will remain until tomorrow.

Saturday 4 October

So you think the day starts so nice, innocent and calm.


Except these ominous anvil clouds start to develop


Very ominous!


The lifeboat went out at 3.54pm


only to come straight back in at 4.05pm


A RIB had overturned at the Tarbert ferry terminal, and the three occupants were in the water. Another boat rescued them, so the lifeboat could return to station.

We went out for supper in An Lanntair, where one other diner laughed continually and very, very loudly. It's a miracle the glasses didn't shatter. Anyway, the sticky toffee pudding was delish, after the fish & chips.


Friday 3 October

A fire in a tenement on Cromwell Street in Stornoway chased people out of their beds and virtually destroyed a beauty salon on the first floor. Apparently, there was a fire at the same location some 8 hours before, and police are treating the incidents as linked and suspicious.

The Inn Between, between Shawbost and Bragar, has been sold off to the Horshader Development Trust, and will be converted into offices.

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Thursday 2 October

Southerly winds, just over 30 mph this morning, which are set to rise steadily through the day to galeforce, 40 mph. Gusts will increase to 60 mph, and I have my doubts about the ferry services around the west coast of Scotland. They are on amber alert for disruption. Force 7 will make for rough crossings - force 8 is borderline.

The developer who was going to build the £200m Eishken windfarm, GDF Suez, has pulled out of the project. This makes it very unlikely that (a) the interconnector will be built across the Minch and as a result (b) another developer will be found.

By mid-afternoon, the winds increased to gale-force, 40 mph, with gusts to 52 mph. The ferry between Uig and Tarbert and the Sound of Harris ferry are both cancelled. The Ullapool ferry has left Stornoway, but may not return this evening. It is blowing a good force 8, gusting to 65 mph at the Butt of Lewis - a very exposed location. Apart from Saturday, it is going to stay windy right into next week.

Seafront Stornoway: spindrift blown up from the water, difficult to proceed on foot. Very wild - 7.20 report suggests wind has increased to force 9 (47 mph), gusting at 63 mph over at the airport.

By 10pm, there are a few flickers on the electricity network - not surprising with tonight's strong winds. The automatic weatherstation at the Eoropie Tearoom records windspeeds between 50 and 70 mph at the moment. The airport here at Stornoway keeps it at between 35 and 55 mph, less exposed and low-lying.

Tragedy does not come alone, as a cursory glance at a death certificate showed tonight. Yesterday, I mentioned a North Uist man, Ewen Macdougall, who might be eligible for War Dead Status. On checking the death certificate, I find that the following entry mentions his sister, Annie, aged 17, who died the day after his brother, having suffered from pneumonia and typhoid fever. The registrar who had to record the death of these two was in fact their father.

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Wednesday 1 October

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Bright morning here with variable cloud and a good breeze, force 5, from the west. Tomorrow, winds will steadily rise to gale force 8, possibly severe gale force 9 down in the southern isles. By the end of the afternoon, there was a downpour in Stornoway, with gusty winds at 5.35pm. Rainfall radar showing a number of heavy showers moving in off the Atlantic.

I am initiating proceedings to have Ewen Macdougall, late of Bayhead Post Office, placed on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission registers. He contracted TB whilst serving with the British Expeditionary Force in France in May 1915. Ewen was declared unfit for war service the following September, and died at home in August 1916, aged 21. If the CE has documentary evidence regarding the location of his burial (most likely the Kilmuir cemetery), I will be pleased to forward that to the researcher who will deal with his case.

Typhoon ‪#‎Phanfone‬ is getting its act together in the empty Pacific Ocean south of ‪#‎Japan‬. The storm will reach a maximum of 125 knots, before turning northeast and making a close approach to southern Japan. This will be towards the end of the 5-day forecasting period, and the forecasting of tropical cyclones carries a 300 mile margin of error at that time.