For those of us living in the UK, yesterday morning was definitely a little out of the ordinary. For starters it was dark, seriously dark, with sunrise seemingly delayed until well after eleven. I realise that wasn’t actually the case but it sure felt like it with a thick bank of cloud robbing us of almost all light and providing this reluctant early riser another excuse to hit snooze. When I did finally drag myself to the window the colour of the sky was almost indescribable. It ranged continually from deep purple to black through to an otherworldly red tinge which not for the only time that day would have me heralding the coming of the end. For those of you lucky enough to have had clear skies the sun would also have been tinged red thanks to the arrival of a plume of Saharan sand, most of which seemed to end up coating my car and which indeed still does.
This being a blog and all I really should have taken a few photos but time was against me and with conditions already looking a little wild I was fully expecting it to be freezing cold when I headed out. How wrong was I. Opening the door a wall of warm, moist air hit me immediately, a shock not experienced since my first visit to Florida when I stepped off the plane and appreciated for the first time the true definition of humidity. Things weren’t quite as dramatic here but it’s certainly not what you expect from the middle of October, nor was the twenty Celsius reading on my car thermometer.
Strange weather indeed and all thanks to Hurricane Ophelia which was heading rapidly in our direction. First classified as such last Wednesday it developed into a category three storm becoming the most easterly Atlantic system to reach that strength in history. Thankfully it had come down a peg or two by the time it hit Ireland on Monday and whilst the mainland avoided the worst winds we still experienced gusts of up to 90mph. Of course the sensible thing to do would have been to head home, draw the curtains and ride Ophelia out but being British I love a good weather story and there was no chance I was going to miss this one. Instead I drove over to Burry Port after work where thanks to a high tide I was hoping for decent waves. On that score I was not disappointed with the Bury Inlet a mass of white water as too was North Dock, Llanelli. I can’t ever recall seeing waves there before nor the spectacle of spray being whipped several foot into the air.
What you can’t tell from these photos is just how much trouble I was having standing upright. At times forwards progress became impossible but by sheltering where I could I did eventually make it out along the old sea wall at about the same time as a flock of Mallards decided to end their attempted flight west. A lone Oystercatcher was experiencing similar difficulties and I was surprised by the sight of two Swallows and a female Wheatear, late migrants both. This got me hopeful for something a little rarer but on the odd occasion that I could keep my binoculars steady all I could see were waves and wind blown sand. The sky itself was still in a continuous state of flux with the sun managing to put in just an occasional appearance.
By six it was almost dark once more and I did finally head for home where thankfully damage appears to be limited to fallen twigs and leaves. I know others have not been so fortunate, particularly further west, and I do wonder if this is a sign of things to come this winter.