Dr. Eddy Graham's Hebridean Weather Blog

by Dr. Eddy Graham

Total Solar Eclipse to be just 230km Offshore from Lewis!

Posted by Dr. Eddy Graham on 24 February 2015, 12:20 PM

A reminder of a truly rare, historic and memorable event: There will be total solar eclipse on 20 March 2015, with the region of totality brushing past the north-west coast of Lewis, some 230km offshore (see image).

In Stornoway itself, some 95% of the Sun will covered by the moon, with a maximum at 9:47am in the morning. The partial eclipse itself will last from 8:40 to about 10:45am. I estimate the likelihood of completely clear skies (based on long-term climate statistics) to be about 31% at Stornoway Airport

If anyone going by boat NW of Lewis? Or better still, by plane (fly above any clouds)? If so, tell me please!

Eddie, Stornoway, 24/2/2015


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Rude Return of Winter

Posted by Dr. Eddy Graham on 23 February 2015, 5:28 PM

It's been one of the wettest weeks of the winter so far, with a waterlogging 84.5mm (3.32in) of rain falling in Stornoway from Sunday 15th to Sunday 22nd inclusive.

More very unsettled weather is likely this week, with heavy rain, gales, hail, sleet, thunder and possibly a storm too later in the week.

Winter - GO AWAY!

Unsettled, changeable, wintry-style weather pattern to continue over weekend and next week

Posted by Dr. Eddy Graham on 20 February 2015, 1:57 PM

The unsettled, changeable and generally mixed bag of wintry weather will continue for coming weekend and into next week.

At some stage we'll experience nearly every type of weather - brief snowfalls followed by the risk of ice, heavy rain, southerly gales on Sunday morning, and even a risk of some coastal flooding where the onshore wind and low pressure coincide with the high Spring tides.

Eddy, Stornoway, Fri 20 Feb 2015, 2pm

P.S. The very large snowflakes (estimated width of 4-5cm) seen in Stornoway on the morning of Sat 21st Feb are not particularly rare or unusual. The air temperature at the time was +0.5degC, ideal for the formation of such big, wet flakes (actually, such large snowflakes are conglomerations of many smaller flakes together - they stick together better when slightly melted).


Total Solar Eclipse to Pass Near NW Scotland on 20 March 2015

Posted by Dr. Eddy Graham on 12 February 2015, 5:07 PM

There's a total solar eclipse expected on 20 March next, with the area of totality passing close to NW Scotland and the Hebrides (see map below). Approximately 95% of the Sun will be covered by the moon. And if you can sail to the Faroes, well it''ll be a full eclipse there...

Here's the predicted path (courtesy NASA):

If you want a Smartphone App for the eclipse, try this: http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEgoogle/SEgoogle2001/SE2015Mar20Tgoogle.html

Eddie, Stornoway, Feb 2015


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All quiet on the western front...

Posted by Dr. Eddy Graham on 06 February 2015, 8:19 PM

After battle and repeated battle this winter, the weather has finally quietened down, thanks to a very welcome and huge area of high pressure which has anchored itself near Ireland at present - and looks like remaining there for several days yet. With a central pressure of perhaps as high as 1047hPa (millbars), it could be highest 'high' since 1992 (I will need to check the records to confirm this).

High pressure areas are huge blobs of warm, sinking air, so the upward motions of air necessary for steady rain will be largely absent over the coming few days. Some smirs of drizzle are still likely in the wind across the Isles and northwestern slopes, but they won't amount to much - and with the air coming in from the west over warm seas, it will stay rather mild for the time of year.

N.B. Have a look at this lovely satellite picture taken this afternoon (credit: NASA/GSFC) which shows a hole in the cloud layer over the southern half of Scotland, revealing much snow still lying across the Highlands (snow and ice is shown in cyan-blue):


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Snow, snow... falling softly...

Posted by Dr. Eddy Graham on 27 January 2015, 12:49 PM

Further update on Monday 2/2/2015: Heavy rain moving into the Westside tonight (Mon night), rapidly turning to heavy thick snow over the moors, and possibly and the east of the Isles, including Stornoway later. Several inches of fresh snow are likely in places, although the strong to gale-force (and bitter) northerly wind may blow some of it away! Even deeper snow is likely on the high ground of the mainland, Skye and Lochaber.

 Update on Saturday 31/1/2015: There remains a high risk of further snow (especially tonight Saturday into Sunday morning, and again on Tuesday). The bitterly cold northerly wind will remain, though it will ease down from the current gale force 8 over the next 24-48hrs (mas gust was 57mph this morning). There are signs of a slight improvement from Wednesday onwards (milder conditions).

Yes, it's gonna snow tomorrow (Wed), expect the snow to arrive during the mid-morning. It will come in periodic squalls with hail and high winds, and there is a risk of thunder and lightning again. Severe temporary blizzards are possible over the moors by evening, as temperatures drop to freezing or below.

The snow will lie on Thursday, but later some milder air (incorporated around the top of the 'low') will arrive from the north, with a slight thaw, giving rise to the risk of much ice by Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Further snow showers, accompanied by strong northerly gales are likely by Saturday/Sunday, blizzards are again possible.

Eddy, Stornoway, Tues 27/1/2015

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Possible new high-altitude wind speed record for Scotland

Posted by Dr. Eddy Graham on 21 January 2015, 12:57 PM

It is reported that a gust of 82.9m/sec (185mph) was recorded during the recent 'hurricane' at the MOD radar site on St. Kilda, at an altitude of 350 metres (on the summit of the 2nd highest hill of the island archipelago). If accepted, this speed would represent a new max wind record for a high altitude site in Scotland (and in the UK as well) - the current record is 173mph from Cairngorm summit on 20 March 1986.I am told that the anemometer has been taken down for testing and calibration before/if any official statement is made. The island staff themselves had to be evacuated by Coastguard helicopter at 3p.m. on the day after the storm.

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Extreme Cold Warning for Highlands

Posted by Dr. Eddy Graham on 17 January 2015, 9:29 PM

The lowest temperatures since December 2010 are set to occur in the Scottish Highlands over the coming 48-72hrs: Temperatures could dip to as low as -15degC in some sheltered glens.

A snowy NW Highlands and Minch on Monday 19th January 2015 (NASA Terra).

It won't be nearly as cold over the Isles, though severe frosts are still expected, with overnight lows of -4 to -7degC commonplace.

Recognise this island? Why, it's Lewis and Harris of course, as seen by NASA's MODIS satellite sensor flying overhead today The snow-free Westside of Lewis stands out plainly, but most of Harris and east Lewis (except northern Point) are covered in thick snow (the second infra-red image shows the whole of the Scottish Highlands, snow is cyan-blue in colour).

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Winter Wonderland - Snow and Storms Update

Posted by Dr. Eddy Graham on 14 January 2015, 10:21 AM

A quick update on the weather folks (as of Wed 14/1/2015, 10am): The wind will pick up quickly to a gale from the southeast this (Wed) evening, bringing heavy rain and a thaw (but no storms as bad as last week). Tomorrow, the thaw continues during the day with rain showers. The wind will die completely for a while, only to return as a severe gale from the NW by evening with the snow returning also by Friday. Outlook for weekend: Very cold and further snow, risk down to below -10C in some places! 

Snow lying at the Stornoway Town Weather Station (toppled during the recent hurricane).

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Photographs of Storm Damage in Lews Castle Grounds

Posted by Dr. Eddy Graham on 09 January 2015, 3:45 PM

See below for a selection of photographs of the considerable storm damage to trees in Lews Castle grounds, near the college today (on a walk with my family) after the strongest hurricane-force winds in at least 75 years in Stornoway - note all the trees are gone from the Shoeburn bank in front of the castle (Lady Matheson would not be amused):


The barograph trace, V-shaped just like a hurricane (n.B. offset +3hPa)  


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A sting in the tail...

Posted by Dr. Eddy Graham on 08 January 2015, 10:17 PM

Update 10:50am Fri 9 Jan 2015: Friends and family are safe. If I could sum the storm up in a word, it would be the noise - 'the sheer roar like a huge angry monster or animal, unleashed upon us down from the heavens'.

There is debris around the streets of Stornoway, and dozens of hundred-year old beech trees in the Castle Grounds have been blown down. Photos to follow.

Update 3:20am Fri 9 Jan 2015: Well, if you live in Stornoway, you don't need me to tell you - we officially had a hurricane force 12 (mean windspeed 79mph, gusting 113mph) between 1-2am. That is easily Category 1 Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

In meteorology, a 'sting jet' is a relatively small region (50-100km wide) of extremely strong winds that hooks around the south side of a rapidly deepening low pressure system. Associated with them is a characteristic hook-shaped cloud (as seen in satellite images), which looks similar to the stinging tail of a scorpion, hence the term "sting jet".

Tonight, as the violent storm approaches, we can see the formation of the cloud hook, from which the sting jet may develop, in the infra-red satellite image (sat24,com) for 21h30 (below):


We are also seeing a huge number of thunderstorms across Uist and Barra this evening as well (Icelandic Met Service)


Sting jets are thought to have responsible for some of the most infamous storms in recent and distant meteorological memory, such as the October 1987 hurricane in SE England, and the 2005 hurricane in the Hebrides.

Stay safely indoors until the storm passes!

Eddie, Stornoway, 22h20 Thursday 8th January 2015


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Hurricane-force storm 'strongest since 2005' seems likely...

Posted by Dr. Eddy Graham on 07 January 2015, 10:46 AM

Folks, I don't want to dramatise this too much, but we're possibly looking at winds approaching near to, or even exceeding hurricane force early on Friday morning now... thus the storm is likely to be the strongest in the Hebrides since the 2005 'hurricane'.

Hurricane force is when winds exceed 63 knots (74mph) in average wind speed. Gusts typically exceed 100mph. These are structurally damaging, highly dangerous winds and pose a risk to life.

Please, stay safe and I advise everyone to stay indoors during the peak of the storm.


A further violent storm is possible Friday night/Saturday morning (but path and intensity of this is as yet uncertain)

Thunder and lightning are likely too going into Saturday, with snow falling as well (though that is likely to be the least of our worries!).

I'll be posting updates on my Twitter account regularly as long as the power lasts (https://twitter.com/eddy_weather)

Eddie, Stornoway, 7/1/2015

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Possible 'Red Alert' Violent Storms Ahead

Posted by Dr. Eddy Graham on 06 January 2015, 11:49 AM

UPDATE 6/1/2015, 5:30pm: Some models are diminishing the Sat morning storm significantly - so it's not certain yet by any means.

We're looking at two possible violent storms in the coming days, at least one of which may reach the 'red' category of warning (the highest possible):

  • On Thursday night / early Friday morning, a deep storm (<967hPa) with an associated sting jet is expected, with winds up to 90mph
  • On Friday night / Saturday morning, a possibly more violent storm (938hPa) could clip N Lewis, with winds approaching 100mph


More later on Twitter... https://twitter.com/eddy_weather

Eddie, Stornoway, Tuesday  6/1/2015, 12 noon

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More gales this week, risk storms, snow and thunder

Posted by Dr. Eddy Graham on 05 January 2015, 5:31 PM

Again, it's going to be a very unsettled week ahead (5th-9th Jan 2015), with severe gales likely on Wednesday and the risk of a major storm on Friday. Astronomical tides are high this week, so there could be problems (especially with the southerly gale up the Minch on Wednesday morning).

Hail, sleet, snow and thunderstorms could cause further problems on Thursday and again on Saturday.

The storm on Friday could possibly be quite violent, but its path is yet uncertain.

As always, I recommend you to please keep posted to my regular tweets on the weather as it develops on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/eddy_weather/with_replies

Eddy,  Stornoway, Monday 5th Ja.

Giant Hailstones in Stornoway, 2nd Jan 2015

Posted by Dr. Eddy Graham on 02 January 2015, 12:02 PM

A exceptionally violent hailstorm swept through Stornoway this morning at 11:22am, bringing giant hailstones of over 1cm in diameter. Here are some pictures:



And a video of the storm as it passed through Kennedy Terrace:


And a screenshot of the 11h15 radar clearly shows the hailstorm as a highly reflective mesoscale feature (small area of white/blue colours inside the general orange/yellow/red rainfall reflections) heading east across the Pentland Road towards Stornoway (courtesy www.raintoday.co.uk)


Eddy, Stornoway, 12pm 2/1/2015


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New Year - New Gales!

Posted by Dr. Eddy Graham on 29 December 2014, 3:18 PM

After the recent quiet, crisp, icy and wintry weather, the New Year is expected to usher in a period of renewed unsettledness, with heavy rain, gales, hail, sleet and squalls returning.

At the moment there is some uncertainty as to when the strongest winds will hit (as the weather systems themselves have yet to develop), but severe gales are likely to occur, especially in the days immediately after the New Year (1st-4th January). It will also turn much colder again by Friday, albeit briefly.

As always, I recommend you to please keep posted to my regular tweets on the weather as it develops on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/eddy_weather/with_replies

Eddy, Stornoway, 30th Dec 2014

Merry Christmas from Eddy!

Posted by Dr. Eddy Graham on 19 December 2014, 10:00 AM

Wishing everyone a peaceful Christmas 2014, festive season and New Year 2015


Scotland in the Snow (Christmas 2010) - NASA/MODIS/GSFC

Sincerely, Eddie

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Weather Outlook for Christmas 2014 and New Year 2015 period

Posted by Dr. Eddy Graham on 19 December 2014, 9:46 AM

FINAL UPDATE (Christmas Eve 24/12/14): Yes, the main part of the low will now cross N England (missing the Hebrides) with a severe snowstorm in upland parts, especially on the near continent. Cold, dry east to southeasterly winds may then set in before New Year.

N.B. After last night's thunderstorm, we now have a new record number of thunder days (7) for any month in Stornoway (based on a long-term record kept by J. Webb of Oxford University)- with upwards of 20 individual thunderstorms occurring during the month.

UPDATE (on Tues 23/12/14): The centre of a deep low pressure system envisaged for Sat 27th Dec now looks like passing over southern Scotland/ northern England. If so, this means that the worst weather would miss the Hebrides and N Scotland. However, I recommend to please watch and keep up to date with the forecasts - follow me on Twitter too for the latest updates: https://twitter.com/eddy_weather

Original post (19/12/2014): Staying unsettled, with frequent heavy rain, gales and wintry showers, but a chance of a brief crisper 'Northerly' spell of weather, with frost, ice and perhaps some snow flurries as we head towards Christmas Day... (and there's further risk of more light snow/flurries around 27th/28th)... 


N. N.B. A very rare giant hailstone storm affected Ness, Lewis on 18th/19th of December - you can read more about this on Hebrides News at: http://www.hebrides-news.com/hailstones-damage-roofs-201214.html - Happy Festive Season!

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Fun in the Snow

Posted by Dr. Eddy Graham on 15 December 2014, 8:56 AM

Thick fluffy snow came tumbling down over Stornoway on Saturday, bringing delight to the young and not so young...  Seo aon no dha photos..





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Focus now on ice and snow

Posted by Dr. Eddy Graham on 11 December 2014, 4:27 PM

Latest: There's a risk of another fall of snow for tomorrow (Monday 15th Dec) morning

The focus on the weather has now shifted from thunderstorms & gales to the risk of ice and snow. 

Ice is likely tonight (Thursday night) with some accumulation of hail or snow, especially away from the coasts and on hills. Tomorrow (Friday), there is a chance of more substantial snow as the day matures (with early coastal rain quickly turning to snow).

The Calanais Standing Stones in Winter Snow (The Graham Family)

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"Weatherbomb" Sparks!

Posted by Dr. Eddy Graham on 10 December 2014, 10:51 PM

"WeatherBomb" Facts and Sparks!

  • The number of lightning strike hits over the north of Scotland was the highest since 5th December 2013
  • But the total number of thunderstorms within 24hrs is highest I can recall (see map below) - over five individual storms affected Stornoway within 24hrs
  • Max wind gusts were: South Uist: 82mph, Bealach na Ba: 105mph; Stornoway: 72mph

Lightning Strikes on 10th December (courtesy Icelandic Met Service)

Why are we getting some many thunderstorms? It's probably the enhanced sea-surface temperatures around the north of Scotland, says Eddy (see orange colours) - NASA ESRL image

A tree came down across the path to Lews Castle College during the storm (Eddie Graham)

The NASA satellite image for today, 10th December (Scotland is under there somewhere!)

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Back to Winter Reality: 933hPa Atlantic Low Tuesday 9th Dec

Posted by Dr. Eddy Graham on 06 December 2014, 4:16 PM

Latest Update (Tuesday 9/12/2014, 5pm):

Update (Monday 8/12/2014, 9am): It's not looking quite as bad as feared now, with the low pressure 'up' to 942hPa. but we'll still get  a severe gale both tomorrow (Tues) and again Wed, with gusts approaching 70mph - these are still hazardous winds, so please be careful. More wintry squalls are likely too, with thunder and lightning again, large hail and sleet/wet snow (the photo below shows the large hailstones in Stornoway on Sunday 7th Dec)


Original post of Sat 5th Dec follows:

Usually a deep low with an intensity of 930hPa or less occurs only about once per decade in the North Atlantic - but last winter we had many such instances..

And so it now seems like this winter doesn't want to be left behind as a poor second-best... because a seriously deep low of 933hPa is forecast to develop south of Iceland at 12h Tue 9th December, passing north of the Hebrides at 12h Wed with a slightly diminished intensity of ~940hPa (see charts below).


Met Office Chart for 12h Tues 9th Dec (above)


Met Office Chart for 12h Wed 10th Dec (above)

At this stage, the strongest winds within the sting jet (hurricane force) appear to be heading for the Faroes and the Rockall Trough on Tues eve, with somewhat reduced winds of Storm Force 10 (perhaps violent storm 11 north of the Butt of Lewis) expected for the Hebrides 12h Wed. But this is still a dangerous storm and anything could happen yet... so I strongly advise everyone to consult the updated weather forecasts in the coming few days.

The astronomical high tide on Tues/Wed in Stornoway is 4.80 to 4.90m - so there could be a risk of storm surge flooding, with a correspondingly huge swell out to sea on the west coast.

Meanwhile, we'll have some (very) temporary snow tomorrow (Sunday) - the deep cold Arctic air is already making its way south of Iceland as I type (see below) - the thunderstorm anvils are turning anti-cyclonically (plenty lightning sferics have already been reported), indicating powerful squalls, snow, hail, thunder, lightning and very deep cold air - so we may even get a visit from 'nan Seachd Siantan' again...

Updates shall follow..

Eddy, Stornoway, Sat 6th Dec 2014


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Hail squalls, sleet & snow flurries likely Fri/Sun: Risk storms next week

Posted by Dr. Eddy Graham on 03 December 2014, 9:56 AM

Hail squalls and snow flurries are likely to affect Stornoway and the Isles this coming Friday, thawing Saturday, only to return again Sunday. Current indications are that any snow is unlikely to lie for long.

On top of this, following the massive influx of cold Canadian air that is causing the snow, severe gales, or even storms, are likely early next week. As of yet, it is uncertain exactly where and when the storms may hit, but we should know in better detail by this weekend.

Eddie, Stornoway, 3 December 2014

Update Thurs 4/12/14: Latest model output suggests hail/sleet during Friday, freezing overnight on roads; thaw Saturday; more substantial snow showers (away from onshore coasts) on Sunday, lying temporarily. Gales early next week.

Friday update (6pm 5/12/14): Still the same as above. A nasty swell on west coast too by Monday.

As the oceans part for Moses, so the clouds part for Lewis...

Posted by Dr. Eddy Graham on 01 December 2014, 9:29 PM

The following spectacular NASA MODIS satellite image, taken on the morning of Sunday 30 November, shows the clouds parting from around the Isle of Lewis (Scotland).


Eddy, Stornoway, 30 Nov 2014

This has happened because the airflow is perturbed by the mountains of Harris and Uig (to the south and southwest of the island). The reason the mountains and land are able to do this is because the cloud layer was very low and shallow (thinner than the height of the mountains), and also because  the airflow was very mild and stable (with no significant decrease in air temperature with height).


A telephoto zoom shot (above, taken through a 10 X 50 binocular eyepiece, from a distance of approximately 50km) shows this cloud being forced to ascend the Clisham mountain (2622 feet, 799 metres) and then descending on the near-side in a strange "waterfall" fashion. This unusual meteorological situation is known as the "foehn" (after the name of a warm wind in the Alps).


Meanwhile the satellite image from two days earlier (above, 28 November) shows a crystal clear sky over the whole of NW Scotland, the Minches and the Hebrides. The only cloud of any note are a few blobs of cumulus over the NW Highlands in Sutherland, over Beinn Mhor & Hecla in South Uist, and two blobs over South Harris. What looks like snow in the glens of the central Highlands is actually the highly reflective top of fog filling the valleys. Look closely, you can see these 'fingers' of fog filling the glens in a near-perfect (but inverted) reflection of topography!

Eddie, Stornoway, 1 December 2014.

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The Halcyon days

Posted by Dr. Eddy Graham on 30 November 2014, 11:26 PM

The Halcyon days are meant to be a period of 7 fine days, occurring during early winter, when (in Greek mythology) Aeolus restrained his winds in order to allow for the kingfishers (Halcyons) to lay their eggs. 

Well, it has been a bit more than 7 days already... indeed, what beautiful weather we have been having for the past 2-3 weeks across the Hebrides and NW Scotland - it seems as though winter has been delayed or indefinitely postponed... the grass is still growing and air temperatures have been more akin with October...


More details shall be forthcoming in the next issue of the Stornoway Gazette, but here are a few nice photographs from the Stornoway Castle Grounds over the past 3-4 days.

A great view of Stornoway from Gallow's Hill on 28 November: 


And a mirror-still Stornoway Harbour on 28 November: 


Finally a nice reflection in the still water of the duck pond! 


Eddy, Stornoway, 30 Nov 2014

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