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16 October 2014

Arnish Lighthouse

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Windy week

Writing this on Wednesday morning, which appears to be fairly calm. If look at the diary entries for yesterday and Monday, they are full of references to high winds. The strongest winds experienced yesterday was a hurricane force gust, 70 mph, towards midnight. That was nothing compared to the winds out on North Rona, some 60 miles to the north. At 9pm, they had sustained winds of 75 mph and gusts up to 111 mph. Still, not as serius as last year's hurricane when gusts went up to 134 mph. In the Western Isles, this sort of thing is not as rare as elsewhere in the UK. Yesterday evening, police relayed a warning through local radio for severe weather.

The advice was for people to take care.
Not undertake journeys or go outside unless absolutely essential
Keep an emergency pack ready containing a torch, a battery powered radio, candles, matches, canned food (in case of powercuts).
Continue to listen to local radio for further advice

The danger in high winds is not just being blown over, but also flying debris. During the hurricane last year, police stopped traffic after a lorry driver reported a sheep flying past his windscreen. A resident of Stornoway contacted the local radiostation, Isles FM, to ask an appeal for the owner of the gardenpond that was sitting in his yard - and it wasn't his! More seriously, the hurricane struck late afternoon, and people in the town had a job keeping their footing.
The worst incident took place further south, on the causeway linking South Uist to Benbecula. Five people drowned, when their cars were swept off the causeway by a stormsurge. They had fled their homes, which were pelted by pebbles from the sea, to shelter with relatives on Benbecula. Two of the casualties were young children; their parents and grandfather also perished. The funerals were attended by 1,500. Five hundred packed in the church, a further 1,000 listened outside to the service being relayed on loudspeakers. To put this figure in perspective, the total population of the area is 5,000. Damage as a result of the January 2005 hurricane was estimated between £5m and £15m. The causeways took a hammering, and have been rendered passable. But I am advised that much of the damage still needs to be repaired. Had this hurricane happened in a more populous area of Scotland or England, the damage would have been repaired within a month.

That is actually the problem from a political standpoint. The Western Isles have a population of 26,500 and one MP, as well as an MSP (Member of Scottish Parliament). The current MP is Angus Brendan MacNeil, a Scottish National Party MP. Although I have seen some good work from his part, the unfortunate thing is that the SNP is not taken very seriously down in Westminster, and therefore may not have the leverage. And he is a lone voice.

It's now just after 10 a.m., and heavy showers are sweeping in across the island. The forecast is for gale number 3 to appear on the scene later this afternoon or on Thursday. Gale number 4 is pencilled in for Saturday.

If you're in the islands: keep safe.
Posted on Arnish Lighthouse at 10:12


I was amazed that the 1st boat went this morning and returned at 11.05 but it's tied up now and there is little chance of it sailing again today. We've got the much smaller Clansman for three weeks while the Caledonian Isles is away to Aberdeen for it's anual service. The Clansman for all it's much smaller size does seem to be able to sail in rougher weather. Any idea why?

Sunny from Arran

Congratulations on the scan. It looks as if the baby is going to look like the British Isles with a bit of mainland Europe thrown in.

Dr Hamish Kildare from Neonatal Ward Lewis Hospital

Sunny, the Small Isles have to relinquish their ferry for a pleasure launch during refit - which usually is during October.

Arnish Lighthouse from Stornoway

Only goes to show that Britain's marriage with Europe is a happy one.

Arnish Lighthouse from Stornoway

oh... sorry.... wasn't showing off, honest!

Sunny from Arran

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