View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Friday 31 October

Happy Halloween.

This evening, I attended the formal opening of the WW1 exhibition Gairm nan Gaidhael [Call of the Gael] at An Lanntair this evening. A piper led us out to the square, where a video was projected onto an outside wall. Back inside, and out of the rain, Mr Trevor Royle, historian, declared the exhibition open.

I viewed the exhibition earlier in the week, and would strongly recommend my local FB friends to have a look, until December 6th. The exhibition will move to Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum and Arts Centre afterwards.

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Thursday 30 October

Morning all from a grey and at times wet Stornoway. We have southeasterly breezes and it's not warm: 8C / 46F.


Wednesday 29 October

A calm day in Stornoway - don't hear that from me very often, do you? - with a lot of high-level cloud. This does not really screen the sun, but gives the sky an appearance of frosted glass. We're at 10C / 50F, not bad for late October.

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Tuesday 28 October

Brilliantly sunny morning, with westerly breeze. Temperatures went down low in the night, 3C, but at present hover around 8C / 46F.

A landslide closed the A835 Ullapool to Inverness road, some 100 yards north of the Garve Hotel. Road partially reopened later; there IS a diversion, north through the Ledmore Junction, adding 50 miles to the journey.

The bright morning has given way to a showery afternoon - see my pics with the rainbows across the Stornoway townscape. Still a lot more palatable than the rain and gloom of the last few days.

You won't have heard of tropical cyclone ‪Nilofar‬, which is nonetheless an impressive category 4 hurricane in the Arabian Sea, with maximum sustained winds of 115 knots (130 mph). The cyclone will intensify to 125 knots, before dry air from the nearby Asian continent will kill it off. It will make landfall in the border area between Pakistan and India at tropical storm strength by Thursday.

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Monday 27 October

Chilly morning, with no or little wind. Rain continuing unabated, it has caused major problems on the mainland. The A82 Glasgow to Inverness road has been blocked by a landslip near Fort William, forcing drivers into a 150 mile detour.

This morning, tropical disturbance 94L was given only a 10% chance to become a tropical cyclone. Four hours later, hey presto, here is tropical storm Hanna. She won't have long on this earth, as the coast looms only 35 miles away. Hanna started life as tropical depression 09L, which crossed the Gulf of Campeche, and succumbed inland over the Yucatan peninsula. And now she's back. Oh, Hanna will cross Nicaragua and into the Eastern Pacific Ocean. Which is already heading for its 21st named storm of the season. Meteorology is never boring.

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Sunday 26 October

Not a pleasant day, force 7 winds and persistent rain. The Highlands can look forward to a 4-8 inch (100-200 mm) dumping of rain over the next 24-48 hours.

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Saturday 25 October

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Getting windy, force 6 to 7. The ferry has been cancelled for the rest of the day, after it gets in at 1.30pm. Apart from the high winds, which are set to increase to force 8 later, and force 9 in the southern isles, it's not too bad a day. Sun's out, and there are a few showers about. 12C / 54F is pretty ordinary for late October. Very heavy showers coming through here at 4.30pm, wind a steady force 7 from the southwest.
By evening, the gale we had been warned about did not materialise. We've got a steady force 7 going, with some pretty good gusts. The wind will only gradually die down over the next 24 hours. The Highlands could get 4 to 8 inches (100 to 200 mm) of rain this weekend.

Friday 24 October

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There was a hit-and-run accident on the Lochs Road, when a vehicle ran into a stationary line of traffic. Several vehicles were shunted into each other, but the culprit went off.
Otherwise, a nice bright day, with interesting cloudscapes. Continuing to add to the Centenary of Sacrifice website.

Thursday 23 October

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Quite a nice day, so went for a walk round the harbour. A new inscription was put on the blue part of the An Lanntair arts centre, and the Leverburgh lifeboat was on the Goat Island slipway. But how about today's cloudscapes!


Wednesday 22 October

Wet and breezy this morning, and there will not be any let up in that until well after sundown tonight. Looking back at yesterday, we just had another autumnal gale, ferries were cancelled and it got rather cold. The fact that this blow was associated with a former hurricane led to a huge amount of media attention. Granted, you never know how these remnants can blow up into something nasty (remember Michael Fish in 1987?).

Been combining databases on WW1 casualties from ALL the inhabited islands in the Outer Hebrides, namely Lewis, Harris, Berneray, North Uist, Grimsay, Benbecula, South Uist, Eriskay, Barra and Vatersay. The pared-down result will appear on a dedicated site over the next five years. Each day when a man was known to have died 100 years before, he will be remembered in a posting. The first few postings are added retrospectively - the first casualty fell on 14 September 1914. There are 225 names whose date of death is not known to me, which I will include in dated postings.

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Tuesday 21 October

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Dawn is breaking on an increasingly windy day. Overnight, the southwesterly wind shifted to northwest around 4.30 am, and I am now watching heavy showers moving through. Gale- to severe gale force winds, blowing at 40 to 50 mph from the northwest this morning. It's also a lot colder than of late, with the mercury only at 7C / 45F, making it feel rather wintry. Extensive disruption on the west coast ferry network. The Sound of Harris ferry is off, as is the boat to Ullapool. The ferry between Uig and Lochmaddy / Tarbert will resume its service later this morning. Scarf, gloves, hat are required outside today. The northwesterly wind has abated somewhat, but the showers, wintry at times, continue. Temperature barely 7C / 45F. Feeling very cold.Hailstones mixed into showers this afternoon and evening, in Stornoway.

Attended a funeral this afternoon, and the protocol is quite different from what you might find elsewhere. The worship in church takes about half an hour, following which the coffin is taken down the street, carried by all the men in turn. This aspect was cancelled today, due to the adverse weather. The hearse then drove to the cemetery, followed by the men only. The coffin is lowered into the grave after a brief ceremony at the graveside. This is done by 6 to 8 men, mostly close relatives.

Monday 20 October

Lovely forecast for tonight and tomorrow. Force 9, peaking possibly force 10 in the morning, with gusts to 80 mph. Ferries? What ferries. Just as well I don't need to travel. Today is overcast, wet and windy.

I am privileged to be included in the customs surrounding death and funerals in the island of Lewis. The house of the deceased will be deluged by gifts. Flowers, roasts, bread - so those in mourning need not worry about food. None of the gifts carry a nametag. It conveys the feeling that the whole of the community is supporting the bereaved. Not just individuals. It also explains the columns of acknowledgements in the Stornoway Gazette. Lewis isn't about the Wee Frees, the Callanish Stones, or blackhouses. Oh, that's the reputation. What I described above shows the REAL spirit of the place.

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Sunday 19 October

Not a very nice morning here after a positively wild night with high winds and heavy rain. Occasional showers passing through on still a strong westerly wind. Some concerns over Tuesday's forecast, which shows a force 9 gale as the remnant of Gonzalo passes over, embedded in a frontal system south of a deep depression over Iceland.

Another major news item: the devastating outbreak of ebola in West Africa. It has seemingly led to a major outbreak of ill informed panic in the United States. Disgraceful.

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Saturday 18 October

It's been a wild night here, but nowhere near as wild as down in Bermuda. Maximum sustained windspeeds 93 mph after a pretty sharp windshift as the eye passed directly over the island. Gonzalo is now scooting away towards Newfoundland, 1100 miles to the northeast. We will see it in the UK by Tuesday. XCWeather gives Scotland winds between 48 mph (in Stornoway) and 66 mph in Campbeltown. The Met Office has advance Yellow Warnings out for southern Scotland for Tuesday.

Had an enjoyable evening in receipt of island hospitality. Weather pretty lively, with at least two heavy showers on the way back across the Barvas Moor.

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Barvas, Loch Street
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