Thought for the day: Life is nature's way of delaying death.

Facebook: making sure you never lose touch with people you don't like.

Internal admin is not "industry".

Flying on a wing and a prayer may sometimes be necessary. Taking off on the same is another matter entirely.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Severe weather forecasts expected for Highlands

The first signs of turbulence appeared last Monday when a couple of perfectly innocent meteorologists were overheard discussing a large weather system forming in the Caribbean. By Tuesday, an area of low pressure at news desks developed and it was clear that a massive storm of hysteria was heading our way. By Wednesday, it had reached Category 2 on the Saffir-Simpson scale when some guy whose best mate knew a journalist's brother got hold of the information, grasping little of it. By this time it had downgraded from category 5, real devastation in the Caribbean to uncut, grade A manufactured codswallop which was then cut to one part fact to ten parts untethered speculation and sold on for public consumption with predictable consequences.

This being the UK, the media were prophesying something of biblical proportions, and they may well have been right; it was, after all, largely untrue and grew in the telling with all real meaning being lost.
We've been known to have storms in Britain before now for fuck's sake. Having the technology to see how they come about and hence predict, very roughly, when they are going to arrive and where does not in itself make them any worse than anything we've had in the past, but if a journalist now casually mentions something down the pub, it's on Sky News the next day and the bells of hell are ringing.

Emergency news crews were put on Code One Red Alert, ready to be dispatched at a moments notice the minute a tree came down or a small burn burst its banks. A quick search on YouTube picked up enough shaky, low-res phone-cam footage of people getting wet and the true horror of this cataclysmic event became all too clear to BBC Scotland.

While much of the country was battening down the hatches in anticipation of yesterday's storm, here in Lochinver, in the wild north-west, we were being lashed by gusts of up to 2mph, wrapped up in t-shirts while freezing in bright early autumn sunshine in temperatures as low as 18 degrees C.

The making tide ensured waves up to 5 cm high pounded soundlessly against the foreshore, occasionally causing small and perfectly adapted crustaceans to sway slightly in the seaweed. Pods of whales and dolphins numbering as many as none at all took shelter in the bay from the mirror calm seas that stretched as far as the eye could see. 

It built up like this all day, with occasional, brief showers of fine and entirely vertical drizzle of insufficient density to do anything other than provoke the particularly high concentrations of midges we've experienced this year.

We waited all day for the looming hurricane, anxiously checking increasingly deranged weather forecasts clearly desperate for somebody to at least be inconvenienced by the weather, preferably mortally so; after all, it had been rendered all the more significant and glamorous by a made-up name, Katia, conferred on it by Americans who seemingly can't even make a trip to the shops without code-naming the expedition Operation Consume.

Then suddenly, at approximately 8.00 p.m., nothing at all happened. Not a sausage. No matter. Perhaps Scottish & Southern Electricity had decided that 4 days of incessant warnings of an Old Testament-grade storm would have left us Teuchtars in a state of readiness for a power cut - the reason is as yet unknown - but  everywhere from Ullapool northwards was plunged into darkness for three flat calm hours. Thus we were unable to watch live footage of the storms hammering the rest of Scotland who, from what I can gather, by and large somehow managed to keep the lights on.

post script 14th Sept: 27 inches of rain fell in an area of Pakistan yesterday