I wrote just over a month ago about The Night of the Big Wind which ripped across Ireland on the night of 6th Jamuary 1839. I'm told that the storm which made landfall in the WEA yesterday afternoon is being dubbed the Darwinday Storm in England, that's fine with me. It was all forecast by the boffins at Met Eireann, so there was time to prepare for the worst that Mother Nature can deliver. Probably not enough time, because there are still drains blocked and infrastructure damaged from the last storms which have been tooling in from the Atlantic these last two months.
At 1400hrs, I was settling in to reach a lab on introductory microbiology with my first year cell biologists. My office mate reported that her class (mostly mature students with their own cars) had fled for home before they were benighted in The Institute. This was probably a foolish move because in the space of about 20 minutes before our eyes, the weather got really wild out there. Sheets of horizontal rain licked across the car-park below us and people were seen tottering about barely under control. The trees were 'lively'. As the storm raged, I got a series of txts from The Beloved reporting which roads were (im)passable nearer home. Then she announced that power was down in the mountains. After class at about 1730 when I was settling in to makey-uppy another exam, she phoned to urge me home while there was still light in the Western sky; so I left.
It wasn't 'mayhem out there' because the storm (gusts 170km/h recorded at Shannon Airport) had travelled through and was now duffing up the Scots, but there was a lot of loose stuff on the road and I had to stop three times and divert once because of crews clearing the roads of gurt big lumps of fallen timber. I was pulled up short 60m from home because a medium sized sciach (Crataegus monogyna) had come down like a toll-barrier across our lane. I was then glad that I'd sharpened the chain-saw on Sunday and chidding myself for not filling it with gas. Our stalwart poly-tunnel is still there, but TB and MFLM had had a busy afternoon preventing it from being frapped into oblivion and disappearing into the next county. I've just been out for a walk in the moonlight and found a large branch of Scots' Pinus sylvestris has descended into our lane beyond our entrance but beside the garden. I'll have to get the chain-saw out as soon as it's light enough to see and reduce that to manageable chunks before work.
The crews who clear the roads in Ireland are 'just folk': our neighbour was off about his business at 2pm when he found a pile of branches and debris across the road. He promptly went home for his saw and spent the next 4 hours clearing the way to the next village. He said that there were 20 saws working through all the obstructions from both ends - when things need doing we don't sit on our thumbs waiting for The County Council to arrive. But we're still waiting for power - thankfully my laptop works on steam. As there are 260,000 customers without electricity across the country, this may be some time.