Tuesday, January 3, 2012

When the Wind Blows

How the mighty have fallen -
Mature tree in Pollok Park destroyed
in December storms
It has been fairly windy in Scotland over the past year. Back in May, unseasonable storms battered the country causing one fatality, power outages, travel disruption, damage to crops and felling many trees.  We do not normally have such high winds during the spring and summer when the trees are in full leaf so they were more susceptible to damage and many mature trees were lost.

The next big storm was in September when the tail end of Hurricane Katia brought heavy rain, flooding and more trees down. It was not nearly as severe as Huricane Irene that struck the north east US a couple of weeks earlier but it still caused at least one fatality and significant disruption.

A relatively calm and mild but wet autumn followed as local government prepared for heavy snow like that which caught them out last year. Then came hurricane force winds on the 8th of December. They had been forecast a few days in advance with the Met Office issuing red alert and the authorities were taking no chances: closing most schools, recommending that people don't travel at all if possible and leave work early to avoid the most severe winds.  The main concern was that the strongest winds were forecast to occur during the afternoon and into the evening rush hour, meaning more people on the roads, hence a greater probability of accidents, people getting stuck and congestion preventing the emergency service getting about.  More trees came down as expected, knocking out power lines, closing roads and disrupting trains but the ferocity of the storms were perhaps a little less than expected.

December continued to be blustery with strong gales on Christmas Eve causing some localised damage (a neighbour lost part of his shed roof) then the next big one hit on the third of January.  This time central Scotland was hit hard as were parts of England and Wales.  The forecast was for strong winds but only an amber alert, rather than the red alert issued for the 8th of December storms so people didn't expect it to be as bad.

The damage was widespread and dramatic:
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