Sunday, 26 October 2014


                                 You can only hear the wind and see the how fast the clouds pass over.

Its not the best time to be out at sea but in Shetland that's how 1/3 of the people earn a living. During this week ferries have been cancelled as a Hurricane hit.

All this weather is created by the difference in atmosphere pressure. Near the coast there is a bigger difference as the sun heats the land surface but with the sea having a greater capacity it takes a lot longer to heat up . The hot air above land rises but the air above the sea is cooler and as the two meet it causes conflict (wind).

Shetland experiences on average 42 days of gales per year with no month escaping, but January has an average of 8 days of gales.  In 1993 the Braer ran a ground off Fitful head in the south mainland but due to the high winds at the time the effect of the oil spill was reduced as the wind helped to disperse the oil slick. This included  25 days of gales during the month, 10 of which were storm force or more and 18 days of consecutive gales from the 1- 18 January.

The New year of 1992 will be remembered by everyone in Shetland as terrific winds hit the islands. The storm brought wind speeds of between 104- 125 mph with gusts up to 172 mph, which led to the deaths of two  people who had taken shelter in a tin hut on Hermaness, the wind hit and blew the hut up to a mile away. 

The weather recording equipment on Saxa Vord blew away as well with the  last (Unofficial) speed recorded at  an oil rig north of  Unst was 194 mph, this is equivalent to a Hurricane category 3 which carry warnings of severe damage. Waves of around 30 m would have been present on the west side of Shetland. Not a time to be out, especially at sea !!!!

With this weekend of gales, ships have been taking shelter in bays on the east and we have two close in near Mousa.

Living in a city the wind doesn't normally cause problems, the buildings usually block the gusts. But in Shetland a wide open landscape provides no shelter. Houses get battered, livestock seek what ever shelter they can often crouching down in a ditch but normally no one gets injured. Shetland people are used to dealing with the elements and with few trees to cause problems get on with life.

Last night was the windiest since we moved to Shetland with force 10 severe gales and rain sounding as though pebbles were being constantly been thrown at the windows. We thought that the boarded up window might give under the strain but it held and today the joiner arrived to add supports to the window. With the window at last on order we  expect that it might get fitted in the next three weeks, well hopefully. Shetland is the windiest place in the UK with a wind speed averaging 14.1 Knots throughout the year, often January is the worst month.

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