Wednesday, 11 January 2006

Windy week

<![CDATA[ Tuesday's storm systemWriting 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

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