Local News for Thursday 22nd December 2016

Storm warnings pile up over Christmas
Storm warnings issued by the Met Office now cover the entire period between now and Boxing Day, with the strongest warnings still out for Friday. The Met Office has added a yellow ‘be aware’ warning for Christmas Day, warning of a further spell of very strong southwesterly winds, with gusts of 50 to 60 mph likely to occur quite widely. Parts of northern Scotland could see gusts up to 70mph, and waves built up from previous days could lead to coastal overtopping and closure of causeways. Today’s yellow warning remains in place, with the whole period up until 6pm on Thursday likely to be blustery, cold and with heavy and frequent wintry showers, together with lightning. Storm Barbara officially hits from 12 noon on Friday, with the worst effects being felt around 6pm in the Western Isles. The warning level here is on amber or ‘be prepared’, with structural damage, travel disruption and power cuts possible.

Read more: Local News for Thursday 22nd December 2016

Local News for Wednesday 21st December 2016

Winter storms pass over islands
A series of storm winds are set to pass over the islands between now and Boxing Day, with the Met Office now warning that the next four days will see extreme conditions, set to peak on Friday evening with winds gusting up to 90mph. Two weather warnings have been issued for the Eilean Siar region. For today there’s a yellow ‘be aware’ warning of what the Met Office calls ‘a range of hazards’ including severe, cold and blustery westerly gales, frequent lightning, snowfall over higher routes and ice on untreated surfaces. For 24 hours from Friday at 9am the warning level is raised to amber or ‘be prepared’ for a high likelihood of impacts including structural damage and power interruption. The warning says: “A spell of very strong south to southwesterly winds is expected to develop on Friday. Gusts of 60 to 70 mph are likely quite widely, with westerly winds gusting to 80 - 90 mph across parts of western and northern Scotland later on Friday and overnight into Saturday. Winds will then moderate on Saturday morning.” Friday’s storm has been named Storm Barbara, the second official storm of the winter season.

Read more: Local News for Wednesday 21st December 2016

Local News for Tuesday 20th December 2016

Wild wind and weather
There’s a confusing and wild picture for the weather over the next few days, with a Met Office yellow ‘be aware’ notice issued for the islands through Wednesday and Thursday, but with ferry cancellations already taking effect today. Ferries between Stornoway and Ullapool are cancelled today, with widespread further disruption expected through the network. CalMac is warning anyone planning to travel by ferry this week that strong winds are forecast in many parts of its network leading to possible disruption of ferry services. Operations Director Drew Collier said: "Weather forecasts for the west of Scotland are predicting a stormy week for many especially as we near the weekend when people will be travelling for Christmas.We will review sailings on a case by case basis but would advise anyone planning to travel by ferry to take this into account when planning journeys in the next few days." CalMac is advising ferry travellers to check the website www.calmac.co.uk for the latest information. Isles FM will also keep listeners and Facebook followers up to date as news is posted.

Read more: Local News for Tuesday 20th December 2016

Local News for Monday 19th December 2016

Tragic news for island relatives
Relatives of a Stornoway family are now known to be among those who have lost their lives during the chaotic conflict in the Syrian city of Aleppo. Two related Syrian families came to the Western Isles this year and have settled in Stornoway, where they are being supported by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and other agencies. Comhairle convenor Cllr Norman Macdonald told councillors at a private meeting last week that the trauma of the families had now been compounded, with news that some of their close family were among casualties in Aleppo. He said: ““It is with the deepest regret that I inform you that the Syrian families resettling in our community have lost very close family relatives during attacks in Aleppo over the last few days. Our thoughts and prayers are with them all at this time.”
 
Barra lifeboat
Barra Lifeboat was called to help out a fishing vessel with engine failure in wild conditions within Castlebay harbour on Saturday. The FV Spindrift called for help just before 2pm, and the lifeboat launched to take her in tow back to the quayside. The lifeboat was alongside and refuelled  by 2.40pm.

Christmas travel disruption
There’s increasing likelihood of travel disruption for those heading home for Christmas, with stormy conditions towards the end of the week, and proposed strike action at some of the airports connecting with Stornoway. Ground handling staff at Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen airports are among those expected to take strike action in a dispute over pay and conditions and weather models are predicting a possible severe storm on Christmas Eve, with deep low pressure systems building in the North Atlantic.

Harris Santa run
Christmas started early in Tarbert at the weekend, where the village tree has been up and lit in the distillery car park, and the annual Isle of Harris Santa Run organised by Tarbert Fire Service on Saturday,  the real Santa leading the way in his sleigh. Santa later settled down by the distillery peat fire to give out presents to children, while parents and grandparents enjoyed mulled wine, hot chocolate and mince pies. All proceeds from the event will be going to a local charity. A Harris Distillery spokesman said: “It is a rare Hearach who has never leaned on a neighbour for a helping hand and a rarer one who will never offer theirs to those in need. Each and every day we turn to each other to get things done, so Christmas provides a great opportunity to celebrate all that is good about being part of the Harris community.”

‘No-one alone for Christmas’ – Salvation Army
The Stornoway-based corps of the Salvation Army want to make sure that no-one has to spend Christmas alone this year, and also to respond to numerous enquiries from local people keen to help with donations of food and gifts for children and families in need. This year the Salvation Army will be serving more Christmas meals than last year, and requests for gifts, food parcels and hot water bottles are also up. Lt Emma Newton told Isles FM: “We are providing gifts for over 100 children, food parcels for more than 50 families and dinner to anyone who would otherwise be on their own, serving two sittings, one on Thursday December 22nd at 12 noon and one on Christmas Day from 2pm. Anyone is welcome to join us for the meals, we don’t want anybody to spend Christmas Day on their own. We’d also like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has already made a donation either directly to us or through Tesco’s Giving Tree.” If anyone wishes to donate towards the annual toy, food and gift appeal, they can get in touch with the local branch at 59 Bayhead or by phoning 703875.
 
Stornoway athlete’s selection
Stornoway athlete Connor Maclean has been named in the Scottish Athletics under-23 squad for the Celtic Nations cross-country championships, due to take place in Cardiff on January 22nd. Connor is one of four in his event, and 24 across all age-groups, representing Scotland. There’s a total of 14 athletics clubs represented in the selection, and a Scottish Athletics spokesman said: “All at Scottish Athletics would like to congratulate those athletes selected, their families and coaches on the honour – and the clubs involved down the years in the development of these hard-working, talented young athletes.”

Local News for Friday 16th December 2016

Contractors challenge Trading Standards warning
A Trading Standards warning about doorstep sellers issued by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has drawn a robust response from the company mentioned in the release. The company, Union Technical Services, was mentioned by name with warnings about poor quality workmanship installing new heating systems. In response, UTS director Owen Coyle said: “Much of the facts stated by Trading Standards are unfounded and the matter has been passed over to lawyers. We are proud of our work on the Isle of Lewis and have not received any customer complaint against Union Technical Services (UTS) staff or any work carried out by our highly qualified engineers. From January 2017 we will be using local labour to ensure as much benefit is drawn into the local area as possible. Anyone who is unsure of the scheme or would like more information should get in touch or come to our meet and greet day which is being organised for the second week in January in Stornoway.”

Read more: Local News for Friday 16th December 2016