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Storms Of The Season

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There's a storm coming...

First, there was the anger of Arwen, then a blast called Barra, and now we brace ourselves for the third storm of winter which is blowing in this weekend.

It looks like only our islands and the west coast will be badly affected, meaning this next wave of wild weather will probably not be given an official name.

And, although the Met Office only deems it worthy of a ‘yellow’ warning, we’re expecting winds up to 90mph coming in from the west tomorrow evening.

It’s nothing we’re not used to at this time of year, as low-pressure fronts whip in from the Atlantic, but it never does to be too complacent.

Every home will batten down their hatches, whether it’s weighing down their wheelie bins or tying up garden trampolines, and all boats will be firmly fixed in sheltered harbours.

After centuries of being battered and blown, there are few trees left here to fell in the Outer Hebrides, and those that remain are often bent and bowed into curious shapes as they bravely cling on.

But, there are enough sheltered nooks and crannies to maintain hardy bushes and botanicals, while the more delicate native flowers and flora wait patiently for calmer days to flourish.

Our defining gin botanical, Sugar kelp, also plays a special role at this time of year as we leave its underwater forests to rest and regrow over the colder months.

The huge kelp forests which thrive off our coastline provide a vital defence during these wild winters, their great beds of seaweed creating a natural buffer against damaging coastal surges.

The beaches will soon show sure signs of the eroding energy these aquatic plants help absorb, and masses of their leaf-like fronds with air-filled bladders will be found strewn across the sands.

The seas certainly make for a spectacular sight as the storm swells smash against rocky shores, filling the air with salt-spray and white, bright-capped spume.

But, nature deserves respect, and a long history of sad stories remind us that we should never take its power or potential for disaster for granted.

So, while the rain lashes against the windows and the winds howl in the eaves, most of us will be safely ensconced indoors where it’s warm and dry.

Fires will be lit, adding to the glow of Christmas lights, and we’ll have plenty of candles ready should the power cut out. And, there will be a bottle of Isle of Harris Gin kept close to hand as well…

There may be storms of a different kind on the horizon this season, but for now, we look forward to the return of island calm and wish you all a safe and peaceful weekend ahead.


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