Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Stormy Scotland

Today saw relatively unprecedented weather conditions for Scotland in May. Usually a month of increasing temperatures, sunny weather and generally altogether pleasant conditions, May 2011 has seen unsettled, wet weather, despite a glorious and hot few weeks in April. Today, as forecast by the Met Office, Scotland has been subject to an intense area of low pressure, bringing howling, raging south-westerly winds and torrential driving rain. The Met Office ‘s amber-rated Weather warning predicted winds gusting up to 80 miles per hour. In fact, In Glen Ogle, 25 miles or so north-west of Stirling, on the road to Crianlarich and Oban, a gust speed of 100 mph was recorded. Such high winds in late Spring or Summer are bad news as regards damage to trees and gardens. Deciduous trees are carrying their full complement of new leaves by this time of year, increasing the resistance to high winds and greatly increasing, therefore, the strain placed on branches. And so, not surprisingly, there were many examples of broken branches and even uprooted trees here in Stirling today. I was on holiday and took a walk around this afternoon recording the scene.

Everywhere was littered with small branches, leaves, even some major tree branches. Many trees were also pushed over by extreme gusts.

This poplar tree fell over behind me with a soft crash while I was sheltering from an extreme gust, waiting until I judged it safe to walk under a big lime tree that had already lost some big branches.

Our lime trees are, in one way, a bit like Australia’s “drop gums”, a species of eucalyptus, the River redgum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) – this drops branches or even falls over when under stress (and kills and injures the unwary!). Lime trees are not as unstable as this but are prone to dropping fairly large limbs in high winds. I was very wary walking into town today down an avenue of mature lime trees, for obvious reasons, given the size of the logs that were raining down! Thrashing violently, the lime trees looked more like whomping willows in the extreme winds today...

Up on King’s Park Golf Course, trees were yanked out of the ground all over the place:

I like the way the root plate, the outline of the branches and Stirling Castle in the background mirror each other’s shape in this case.

Our garden didn’t escape the damage either – here are the sad remains of half of our 150 year-old pear tree which snapped clean off in the wind.

And our neighbour’s old (50 years old?), highly prolific bramley apple tree was simply pushed right over. So, no more free bramleys for us.

As the evening wears on, the wind is dropping (thankfully!) - I'm up late completing this and it is now almost silent outside (0130 hours). I’d like to round of this wee report with one of my favourite poems, the highly appropriate “Wind” by Ted Hughes. My High School English teacher, Brian Christopher, left me with an abiding love of Ted Hughes’ poetry, particularly his nature poems (surprise surprise), for which I’ll always be grateful. The images conjured by this poem would be familiar to many today in Scotland (and Northern Ireland, I gather):


This house has been far out at sea all night,
The woods crashing through darkness, the booming hills,
Winds stampeding the fields under the window
Floundering black astride and blinding wet

Till day rose; then under an orange sky
The hills had new places, and wind wielded
Blade-light, luminous black and emerald,
Flexing like the lens of a mad eye.

At noon I scaled along the house-side as far as
The coal-house door. Once I looked up -
Through the brunt wind that dented the balls of my eyes
The tent of the hills drummed and strained its guyrope,

The fields quivering, the skyline a grimace,
At any second to bang and vanish with a flap;
The wind flung a magpie away and a black-
Back gull bent like an iron bar slowly. The house

Rang like some fine green goblet in the note
That any second would shatter it. Now deep
In chairs, in front of the great fire, we grip
Our hearts and cannot entertain book, thought,

Or each other. We watch the fire blazing,
And feel the roots of the house move, but sit on,
Seeing the window tremble to come in,
Hearing the stones cry out under the horizons.

Ted Hughes


  1. Its been Apocalyptic weather big bro!,
    A lot of fire wood available now!
    must have been a lot of nests/eggs/young birds destroyed too...

  2. Thankfully my old pear tree survived unscathed. I drove into Edinburgh last night to pick up G as the trains had all been cancelled. The roads were almost completely deserted and the wind at the bridge on the A1 at Hailes was horrendous.

    Exhilirating drive though.

    Sad to hear of that guy killed by the falling tree in Dumbartonshire tho'


Thanks for taking the time to comment... much appreciated at this end! If you've enjoyed reading this post, why not sign up to follow this blog? I won't even make you wear a robe, cape, costume or anything, unless you insist.