How to survive a storm…

The weather has been, as we say up here, a bit coarse over the past couple of days. On Wednesday night and during the day on Thursday the wind was practising hard, with plenty of hail slamming against the windows, but last night it really got into its stride.

We are used to weather, which is why the houses are low and stone built, and garden furniture is kept in the garage all year round.  Outside the towns, we don’t have walls round gardens, nor solid wood fences:  fields have barbed or shire wire and gardens have shire wire or picket-type low fencing.

Winds are measured by the Beaufort Scale.  (For some fun definitions go here!)  Anything up to a Force 7 (‘near gale’, wind speed 32 – 38 mph) is referred to here as “a tad breezy”. At that point you put your head down when walking outside, and only open one car door at a time.  Force 8 (‘gale’, to 46 mph) is “getting windy” – fighting to get the door open and trying to put off going shopping.  Force 9 and 10 (‘severe gale’ and ‘storm’ to 54 and 63 mph) start to cause comment and Force 11 (‘severe storm’, to 72) and above starts to affect daily life.  The scale stops at Force 12, known as Hurricane, with wind speeds over 73 mph.

The wind was really getting up by the time I went to bed last night.  Hail was again being thrown at the bedroom window with considerable force and I had to put the radio up to hear it over the noise.  About 11 pm the electric went out and we had a couple of blasts of thunder.

This morning I stayed in bed as long as I could!  The house was freezing and the electric was still off.  One plans one’s wardrobe carefully under such conditions, knowing exactly where things are and what order to put them on!  My underwear and socks were within reach, so they had 10 minutes under the duvet with me before I started!  Then it was dash out of bed and get into the clothes as quickly as possible.  THIS is why I have socks in different sizes (big over smaller) and thermally lined ankle boots as slippers!  My Norwegian wool thermals were essential, followed by cashmere and alpaca on top, and a long, heavy skirt (much warmer than trousers).

Fortunately no one in their right minds is out of doors unless they have to, so no one could see me sitting in the house with my sheepskin hat on and cashmere-lined leather gloves!  Who cares? – all those natural animal fibres definitely keep one warm!!

My MP3 player was (fortunately) fully charged so I was able to listen to the radio and to find out that various islands were without power, and that they hoped to have us on by mid afternoon.  I also found out that the highest gust was measured over the hills in Evie at 122 mph and several places recorded steady speed of over 100 mph, a Class 2 hurricane.  (If you are on Facebook  find Radio Orkney and there are pix of the charts.  And do watch the video clip – those cliffs in the second part are a couple of hundred feet high…)

The power came back on early afternoon and now the house has warmed up.  I am still somewhat tired, but if those forecasts are right we should get a quieter night tonight.  Here’s hoping!


20 thoughts on “How to survive a storm…

  1. Just discovered your blog while browsing on Ravelry. In Shetland, so can empathise with comments re weather ! As a sailor’s wife, and fairweather sailor myself, I do love some of the less official definitions of the Beaufort Scale !

    1. Aren’t they brilliant?!! My two sons are both in the marine world, one a deep sea engineer and the other now a Harbour Master, but ex Deckie. It does make you very aware of the power of the wind and waves.


  2. We had a cyclone here Downunder – fortunately not where I live. (We are still getting the tail end of it though with humidity and heat at enervating levels.) I sympathise but think your housing does withstand the weather rather better.

    1. Yes – we get it every year, several times a year, so we are ready for it. I feel desperately sorry for those whose houses and infrastructure are not buiult for it, like the north of Australia. having been flooded out I know exactly what they are going through – and it will continue for years to come. I didn’t get back into my house for 4 years….


  3. when I moved over here from germany I had to adjust both my wind and my frost perception! over here anything below plus 5 deg. C is called frost – whereas anything below force 5 for wind isn’t even noticed – a bit like your description:)) we have had high winds for the last 3 days, but luckily no damage apart from a radio antenna, which came down…. the different descriptions of the Beaufort scale are rather entertaining, too:))
    good luck with the next few days, I think it’s forecast to be more of the same….


  4. It always seems strange to me that “storm” is stronger than “gale” force. I’ve lived most of my life in areas where the wind picks up like that. Your local terms for the degree of wind sound very familiar!
    The kids loved the storm force… they’d take the golf umbrella out, stand in the wind, and use it to hold them upright while they leaned back at a 45 deg.
    Now the serious question! Where do you get the Norwegian wool longies? Stanfields here in Canada makes wonderful wool long underwear, but only for men. Their women’s line doesn’t include pure wool. My DIL is a power engineer and works outdoors, sometimes as cold as minus 45 C. I have looked everywhere for wool longies for her (she got frostbite on her butt once, which only sounds funny if it isn’t you!)
    Glad your power came back on. This is why I insist on a gas fireplace in the house, don’t need electric to run it!

    1. Mine are mens, top and bottoms! Son Ben (the Marine Engineer) used to work for Knutson, a Norwegian company, and they issued them to all on the ships. They are made by Davold – a company which has been in the forefront of knitwear for seamen since the mid 1800s. I’ve been to their factory – on an island off Alesund…

      Ben used to wear them in the Baltic in winter and round the top of Norway in the winter. They still have a very faint tang of engine oil…!!


    2. Hi, Barb…. a company called Nova Naturals has a great set of Finnish wool long johns for women. I have not tried them, but often ordered their kids’ version and the nappy pants for my grandkids, which lasted fantastically well when passed down through the family and over to friends. They also sell great wooden toys and imaginative playthings, lots of stuff a Waldorf school would use.

      Check their website out…. you may find what your daughter-in-law needs!

      Barbara M.

  5. I have been a reader for a while, and have decided to stop hiding in the closet.

    The last three days I would have asked for some of the cold to be sent down under, but today is good with a bit of rain.

    I cannot imagine the weather being that cold and found your instructions for survival very interesting. Wishing some our warmth to head your way.

    Judy B

  6. Thanks Liz and Barbara for the undies info! The DIL tried the men’s but that extra in the front got really annoying when she was on ladders. And she climbs up and down them all day. (she counted rungs once and stopped after 1000)
    I will go check out the Nova Naturals right now.

  7. I loved the clip o’the cliffs o’Yesnaby. I used to stay at Voy (my Dad still does) and the windows get clarted in spray from there even though the hoose is about 3 miles away. It definitely sounded like the sort of night that needed everything tied doon and even then it wasn’t necessarily safe.

    Like the joke of how can you spot a tourist in Orkney? They have an umbrella 😉

  8. I suppose there’s one consolation — knitting doesn’t require electricity… and you did make me laugh – I remember getting dressed like that when I was a child. I tried not getting undressed in the first place, but my mother put a stop to it.

    It puts us to shame; we only got up to 93mph here in North Wales, and now that feels like a mild breeze. Mind you, it’s still windy and now we have exciting floods. Oh joy.

  9. Wow! Those were quite the waves…As an antidote, I offer this Canadian spoof version of “Snow in Toronto”. Cheers, Danielle

    (Oh, and I LOVE the Beaufort Scale)

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