Yesterday I wrote about the Big Freeze on Islay and other parts in Europe, a situation that is likely to continue well in to next week or even longer. A worried reader sent me an email and wondered how the situation on the roads are on Islay and in other parts of Argyll. From what I have heard from friends on Islay I can tell that the main roads on Islay are most of the times safe to drive on, and these roads are gritted regularly when necessary. The side roads are a different story, there are patches of ice and these roads can be very slippery and treacherous. Although the temperatures are going up slightly in the next days, the long term weather forecasts expect that the cold winter weather will be with us for another fifteen days! And with the wind increasing from Sunday onwards the wind chill will be someting to be taken into account as well. The situation in Argyll and other parts of Scotland are of a different order. Yesterday I mentioned that Islay and Jura were the only areas in the UK that didn't see any snow on the lower grounds. The rest of the UK has had snow and in many places it's causing serious problems such as road closures and delayed or cancelled public transport. I can recommend the BBC travel website for an overview of travel news, for both roads and public transport. Continue reading.....
Closer to Islay the Argyll and Bute Council issues updates on the current winter situation such as the following press release issued today: "The current weather forecast indicates that temperatures in Argyll and Bute this evening will be similar to the earlier part of the week. They are likely to climb over the next few days, but only to around freezing point during the day and below freezing at night. The 15 day forecast suggests that temperatures will continue to hover around freezing so the snow, ice and night frosts will dominate. All main roads in Argyll and Bute are open but two minor roads on Mull (the B8073 Ensay/Kilninian and C46 Glen Bellart) and two minor roads in Kintyre (the B842 on the steep hill just south of Grogport and the U10 at Glen Breakerie) are closed."
"We will continue our winter maintenance treatments dealing with our roads on a priority basis. The main, strategic routes will be treated first before more minor routes are covered as and when resources permit. Continued treatment of pavements will also be undertaken when resources permit. The level of salt available in Scotland has featured heavily in the media this week. In Argyll and Bute, we currently have some 1,350 tonnes in stock, with more being delivered on Monday to take the stock level to about 2,200 tonnes. Since the middle of December, we have used 10,000 tonnes of salt and an additional 3,000 tonnes of grit/sand to supplement treatment operations. You are recommended to continue to give yourself more time to make your journeys. Roads and pavements may have been treated but there is still a risk of ice, especially in these weather conditions."
The cold wintry spell also causes problems for the wildlife on Islay and other parts of the UK too. For local winter related wildlife news from Islay I can recommend the Islay Wildlife or Islay Birder Blog, both from John Armitage, or Ian Brooke's Islay Birds Blog. If you want to help the local wildlife in your area you can check out the RSPB website where you can find information on what you can do to support the wildlife in these bitter times. The image of a Jura moonset is courtesy of Teresa Morris from Islay Wildscapes.