Severe gale force winds cause disruption and damage throughout isles

Christopher Hay's flattened caravan in Skerries.

Severe gale force winds caused damage and disruption to national and local ferry services and flights today – and destroyed a caravan in the Skerries.

Shetland experienced the highest winds in the UK, with 81mph gusts recorded in Foula, 73mph in Lerwick and 69mph in Fair Isle.

NorthLink’s sailings were delayed or cancelled and there were no inter-island ferries on some routes. There were no ferries on Bressay or Bluemull Sounds or to Whalsay in the morning, and the Yell Sound service was down to a single ferry. Normal service resumed on these routes in the afternoon, although the Skerries service was off all day.

The reduction followed the strike yesterday when there were no ferries at all.

Flights to and from Sumburgh were also disrupted, with the early morning flight from Aberdeen and the 12.15pm departure to the city both cancelled.

No activity took place at all at Scatsta airport as the wind speed and sea state were outwith operating limits. All 18 daily helicopter flights were cancelled and there were no fixed wing flights either.

The wind prompted many calls to the emergency services, with Lerwick police dealing with 52 in 48 hours. They were called to clear debris from near the Queen’s Hotel early this morning, and the fire service was called out twice. They secured unsafe windows and masonry at the former Judane knitwear factory in the town, where firefighters tied a rope round the central pillar of a window and secured it to a pillar inside the building to made the area safe.

Earlier they were called to a house in Lerwick’s Arheim where a trampoline was in danger of blowing away. The owners could not hold it down and firefighters dismantled it.

Meanwhile Christopher Hay’s caravan in Skerries was flattened. He said his brother had gone outside to check on the caravan and it was “completely gone, blown over and absolutely nothing left”. Christopher bought the caravan a few years ago with the intention of doing it up. The gales yesterday morning put a permanent end to that aspiration.

The problems followed a day of disruption on the North boats on Wednesday, when the Hjaltland left Lerwick at 2pm due to the poor weather conditions and arrived into Aberdeen at 9.15am.

Although the northbound Hrossey left Aberdeen on time at 7pm on Wednesday, she only arrived into Lerwick at 2.30pm yesterday. Normal service on both the passenger and freight services will resume this evening.

Fair Isle weatherman Dave Wheeler said the F9-10 winds had been stronger than expected in Shetland. The brunt of the severe gales had been expected in Fair Isle and Orkney, he said, instead of which the system tracked further north. The gales moderated in the afternoon with winds reaching a mere 50-60mph.


Add Your Comment
  • Jonathan Hinkles

    • December 1st, 2011 22:55

    For clarity, the flight between Aberdeen and Sumburgh which was cancelled today was the regular Loganair charter flight which connects with a helicopter at Sumburgh to service an oil industry vessel offshore. This flight was cancelled as the helicopter could not operate given offshore weather conditions. All of the Flybe scheduled flights to and from Sumburgh have taken place today as planned.

  • John Guild

    • November 12th, 2012 11:28

    I just finished reading T.C. Bolye’s ‘Swept Away’. A compelling story short in which the winds of Shetland’s Unst play a central role. It appears to me that you would need to be of stout mind and body to make a life in the Shetlands.

  • James Mackenzie

    • November 12th, 2012 19:07


    You should have been here on Christmas Day 2011. That was breezy!

  • Billy Wiseman

    • November 13th, 2012 12:05

    new year 1992 was probably the windiest day/night ive ever been in, same night those 2 people got blown off the cliffs in that birdwatching shelter in of my friends had a guitar blown out of his hands(in its case) and he was left holding the handle!

  • Sandy McDonald

    • November 13th, 2012 20:28

    92 was bad, it blew glad force for 6 weeks non stop if I mind right. Saxaford got badly damaged and the Braer ran aground.

    Remember when they used to close the Anderson if it got too windy as they were concerned about tiles blowing off the old English department roof and imbedding themselves in a pupil!?

  • ian tinkler

    • November 13th, 2012 20:51

    A bit of a blow. An all-time record mean wind speed was recorded at Muckle Flugga lighthouse on the island of Unst at 73kts (89mph) with unofficial record gusts of over 150kts/173 mph (150 kts was the instrument maximum on the Muckle Flugga light hence the reason it was unofficial and the instrument itself was destroyed by a severe squall sometime around 0300hrs!). I remember this day well, Daughter Shona hit the deck at 7 minutes past twelve!! Life has not been the same since!


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