WEDNESDAY MORNING: (January 8th) Due to adverse weather conditions, the 08:00 sailing departing Castlebay has been delayed and will now depart at 11:00 via the Small Isles to avoid heavy swell conditions. The 13:40 departing Oban has been cancelled, again because of adverse weather.  XC weather forecasts gust of up to 40mph until midday with wind moderating in the afternoon. Maximum windspeeds tomorrow are around 30mph. However, another gale with 70 mph gusts is forecast for Friday-Saturday overnight, with similar weather returning on Sunday-Tuesday.
Islanders have battened down the hatches today (Tuesday January 7th) with some essential services cancelled as storm winds sweep across the Western Isles.
And Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) have moved to yellow alert this morning as the winds build, with top gusts of 66mph already reported this morning in South Uist.
An SSEN statement posted at 10am said: “This morning we have moved to Yellow Alert in preparation for storm-force winds and heavy rain forecasted to impact the north of Scotland today and into tomorrow.
“Our updated weather model shows a period of wet and windy weather moving in from the west coast this morning, with strong winds strengthening throughout the day, peaking between 3pm and 7pm before gradually easing overnight.
“Wind gusts of 60-70mph are expected across the north of Scotland, with storm-force winds and heavy rain expected to impact the Western Isles (and) gusts of up to 80mph possible in exposed western areas.
“We've enacted our established resilience plans, increasing standby resources in anticipation of potential damage to the network. Our teams are also proactively contacting customers on our Priority Services Register to offer extra assistance where required and are liaising with local resilience partners to help coordinate efforts to prepare for potential supply interruptions.”
Dale Cargill, Director of Customer Operations, said: “We’ve been monitoring this weather system for a number of days now and would like to reassure our customers we are well prepared to respond promptly to any damage to our network. We’ve moved engineers and equipment to the areas expected to be worst impacted to carry out repairs, where it is safe to do so.
“I’d ask anyone concerned about the potential disruption to supplies, particularly those who may need extra support during a power cut, to call our teams on 105. As high winds and heavy rain pass through the country later this afternoon, I’d also urge members of the public not to approach any damage to our equipment and instead, report it by calling 105 or via our Power Track app and our teams will investigate as soon as possible.”
Other services around the islands are being affected by the weather, with the Southern Isles worst affected this morning. All ferries to, from and between the islands are cancelled today, with disruption expected to continue tomorrow on all services.
Schools are closed in Barra and all bus services have been cancelled for the day on the island. The collection of bins on the east side of Barra has also been cancelled.
Barra medical practice yesterday stated: “The surgery will remain open as usual tomorrow, however if any of our patients wish to reschedule their appointment the staff will be happy to help.”
Barra airport café is closing early today due to the weather and because there are no afternoon flights. The 8.50am flight from Benbecula to Stornoway was cancelled this morning and this evening’s service between Glasgow and Stornoway is also cancelled, but all other flights at Stornoway and Benbecula are currently expected to run to schedule.
The community hub at Kinloch is closed today and the salt meat supper planned for January 11th has been postponed to January 18th, due to the forecast for later in the week. An Lanntair’s creative play session at Tiumpanhead Community Centre is also cancelled this morning.
The Western Isles are under a Met Office warning of strong winds accompanied by heavy rain until 9pm tonight. They warn of potential impacts including temporary loss of power supply and spray on coastal routes. High tide this morning passed without incident and high tide this afternoon is at 4.37pm
The picture is by Chris Murray and was taken in December.