HomeAn Gàrradh MòrBy Fire and By Flood


By Fire and By Flood — 19 Comments

  1. Hello both. Thank you for confirming that the quoted figure was mistakenly given as 76cm and not 76mm (what is the BBC coming to?!). I knew that the current UK rainfall record for 24 hours was in Cumbria and was over 12″ (341mm in 2015 in fact) so 76 cm seemed highly improbable. I was able to find the 76mm at https://www.facebook.com/Western-Isles-Weather-Stations-Network-857643101021932/ which is probably where you found it too. Regardless of the actual quantity that fell on your holding, I do hope you have managed to clear up all the debris and that there are no long term effects. Do you have your own amateur weather monitor? We do here and I find it especially useful to record the rainfall (as well as guaging when I might need heat in the greenhouse!); it won’t be 100% accurate, but it does at least give me a reasonable indication. I was interested to read in the comments that you may consider moving elsewhere in the longer term – new challenges…?

    • J & D > Damage from flood required work if not expenses; but the damage to electronics has proved costly – at least £500 in components that we know of so far, plus labour, and disruption of ventilation and heating, and other services not working properly or at all. Insurance excess and NCD too high to bother with claiming.

  2. Too much rain anywhere is not good. It can be catastrophic for one or many but the end result is the same. Someone has to deal with all the difficulty. I so understand and am sorry you are dealing with a big expense that is unplanned. I lived where there were massive lightening strikes all the time and they would often cause damage to electronics or appliances. We spent a great deal to put a protector on at the front of the line but all in all I’ve been very lucky so far. The weather is just odd everywhere and it sounds like you are getting your share of it. Hope this isn’t a sign of what’s to come ahead.

    • J > We in the Outer Hebrides like to think we have weather that is ‘extreme’, and indeed it is in the UK context – and possibly even for NW Europe generally. But in truth the UK is a very benign and safe place to live (in every sense), and we can be complacent about the difficulties faced by others around the world. D and I are increasingly aware of this as we start to ponder the prospect – perhaps 5 or 6 years from now – of moving away from the islands to new opportunities​ and challenges.

      • I understand what you are saying here. I may last a bit longer where I am as well. It’s a lot of work and I’m getting older by the minute. 🙂 Take care of yourselves.

  3. Denise and Johnathan I am so glad you decided to post the blog post afteral, some ‘clever Cath’ has posted a comment on my blog post telling me I was wrong and you only had 76mm of rain! that does not look like 76mm and her comment is an insult to all the people of South Uist,

    I didn’t post your comment about the rain because my blog post was not about the rain but my garden at the end of August, and I have had instances in the past where a comment has lead to lots of further comments that have no connection to the original post, also thanks for now giving me the opportunity to explain,

    I thought about your comment a lot and in the same vain perhaps we should not post about our food crops when there are people starving in other parts of the world, I have just heard radio 4s Crossing Continents, Starting from Scratch in Uganda, where Sudanese refugees are really starting from scratch, if we took this to its logial end no one would be able to blog about anything,

    anyway back to your post, I am glad your roof stayed on, that’s always my biggest worry, sorry about the fire, sounds abit scary, I don’t like lightening and I’m glad we rarely have it here and so insurace doesn’t cover for the solar controller, that’s a pain, take care, Frances

    • J > Hello Frances! It’s an odd thing that, when we come to look for publicly available evidence to backup what we privately know to be true, we often find ourselves struggling. This is a case in point. The Met Office website has a page of summary weather reports for the past month or so, and on that it mentions that there was ” In the 24 hours ending at 0900 GMT on the 23rd, 76.4 mm of rain fell at South Uist (Western Isles)”. Note that that is mm, not cm. (The 30-yr average rainfall for all of August is about 110mm – so 76cm is a lot for one day!) However, it doesn’t say where in South Uist, though I know as a ‘fact’ (or at least it was the fact 3 years ago when I had to order meteorological statistics) the only official weather station in South Uist is at the MoD/Qinetiq range, which is on the top of a hill about 20 miles north of us. The nature of summer rain storms is (and I do have professional technical knowledge in this subject) is that they are very localized and flashy, and that it is inconceivable that a torrential downpour accompanying an electric storm would have covered the whole of South Uist. The fact is that, on the croft, I empty sheep feed troughs twice a day. They are all approximately 150mm deep. There are two in one field, and two in another some distance away. All were full to the brim. Even allowing for the slightly tapered sides and rounded edges, we can be certain that the rainfall was at least 100mm. However, a bigger trough, one that I use for washing out feeders, drinkers and so on, of similar construction and shape but much bigger, and deeper, and is also emptied daily, was also full to the brim, and that trough is about 300mm deep. On going up the hill to check the sheep I was astonished to find debris brought down the streams that pass through our croft. Although the land falls steeply, which should allow for a very considerable flow of water, the the lines of grass and other debris were an extraordinary height above above normal water level, even though the ground either side does not slope towards the streams very much. We have seen full or almost-full troughs before, but not in conjunction with flooding anything like appeared to have occurred. As a civil engineer, I find it difficult to imagine what kind of a torrent there must have been raging down the hill during the night; by morning the water level was still very high, but not exceptional. I am therefore inclined to the view that we did, genuinely, experience a rain storm of exceptional intensity and duration, and that the total rainfall in 24hrs was indeed likely to have been in the order of 30cm (not 30ins). That is really a quite extraordinary rainstorm, for anywhere in the UK. I did take some photos on the croft, but unfortunately the heavy cloud, low light, rain, and the sea of greens greys and browns doesn’t make for self-explanatory photography! The only one worth showing is the one with the cast iron wash hand basin that came tumbling down from somewhere well upstream, where the stream is normally little more than a trickle.

      • well Jonathan the BBC radio 4 news in the morning said South Uist had 76cm of rain fall in one day, that’s where I got the information from, I don’t know how much we got up here but I sincerely think we were not too far behind, I could see the river rising out the back and the drainage ditches were high, thankfully they are dug deep, I personally think the reason the islands whether the copious amounts of water that is dumped here so well is because the islands have planned for it and built for it, house are built to withstand over 100 mile an hour winds and have been for centuries and ditches are dug and cleared and kept clear, when we had the first year of all this ‘extra rain’ in spring the diggers were out making drainage dtiches deeper and I noticed in some areas where the soil and grass had built up at the side of the road they dug channels so the water could reach the ditch quicker and not stay on the road,
        the 30 year average is from 1980 to 2010, so does not inculde this extra wet weather we have had since autumn 2011, I will be interested to see what it will be for the period 1990 to 2020 with these years of wet and even then it will only be a third of the measured period covered, I hope I won’t be around in 2040 as I don’t want to live to very old age but I would be interested to see rainfall for the 30 yr. period from 2010 to 2040 if this very wet weather continues, Frances

        • J > Denise heard the same as you on the radio – that was before we read your blog post mentioning it. The annual average for South Uist is more or less the same as for the whole of the UK, which is about 1.2m (NW Scotland annual average is about 1.8m, so Uist is quite dry.) Regardless, there is no doubt at all that the rain we experienced was vastly in excess of what was reported, and I don’t doubt that, very locally, even worse can happen.

          • oh thank you, thank you J & D for confirming what I had heard, though I felt absolutely sure there had began a niggling doubt, I have thought about what you said about where the weather station is on S.Uist, as the nearst to my area of Lewis ia about 10/11 miles south of us and that can make quite a lot of difference, averages are just that average, a large chunk of Texas is desert so an average for Texas would not reveal what has happened in some areas, Frances

  4. Glad all is OK still haven’t finished the harvest concerned about the weather .Need a dry week

  5. We don’t have hurricanes here but we do have high, gale for e winds and rain, but never damage such as our American friends are suffering. Oh and we have earthquakes which can be devastating.
    I’m glad you escaped with some inconvenience but little damage

  6. Sorry to hear it. Too much rain is too much, no matter what! Glad that your repairs are at least partly taken care of, too. I am terrified of lightning, it seems so devious.

    • The rain continued at a gentler pace for another day and a a half, so the flood receded only slowly. Thankfully, the lower end of the garden – around the house – is non-productive, and in fact is largely given over to ‘wild’ areas, so we didn’t lose any vegetables. And let’s face it, it was just standing water, not raging torrents tearing our land to pieces.

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