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The Sunny Side of the Alps
With an orange weather warning being toted across the whole country we are once again experiencing the brutal onslaught of another Atlantic gale (Storm Ciara) here in Ireland.
After our 16 years in Slovenia, we’d pretty much forgotten the power of the westerly gales that regularly pummel Ireland and the UK. One of the first things we’d noticed about the weather in Slovenia was the lack of strong wind. Having come from the west coast of Scotland, it seemed quite novel to open the car door without risk of it being blown off its hinges! There was no need to wear windproof jackets and, when it rained in Slovenia, most folk just unfurled their umbrellas. An umbrella on Scotland’s west coast would be whipped inside out and turned into a kite without a string before you could say ‘supercalifragil-….’ See, I told you!
So far, we’ve been lucky here at McCann’s Farm and have not had suffered any serious storm damage. Soon after we arrived in Ireland, storm Ali flipped the metal roof off our hay barn (see pic). It had already been terminally damaged by storm Ophelia before we arrived, and storm Ali just finished the job. I was consoled when a friend remarked that Ali had done the work of tidying it up for me!
Although these westerly storms can be worrying, particularly the anticipation of property damage, the child in me is excited and fearful at the same time.
I remember feeling that excitement and fear during a long difficult climb one winter on Ben Nevis. A powerful storm was forecast for the afternoon and I and a climbing friend from Glasgow had reasoned that we should be finished and on our way back down by lunch time if all went well. The climb did go well, but as we began the last pitch we suddenly found ourselves being pinned against the wall of snow and ice by roaring gusts of wind.The storm had arrived early and it wasn’t taking prisoners. Loud snapping sounds filled the air as the wind cracked its whip hard against the rock. It was an unusual and unnerving noise and not one that I’d heard before in the mountains. Topping out onto the summit plateau, we could barely stand between gusts and had to crawl on hands and feet to reach the summit shelter for some brief respite before making the long and arduous descent in wild conditions.
Just right now though, I’m going to top my tea up as I look out the window from a warm room as storm Ciara does its worst…