Tiree’s Strategic Position

“And now the weather report from Coastal Stations for 04:00
Tiree Automatic – SE 4, 15 miles, 1018 and falling slowly.”
Thus began today’s report on Coastal Stations
from the Shipping Forecast on BBC Radio4.

Sundown on Tiree – looking across to the neighbouring island of Mull

Tiree is known by many for a whole variety of reasons.
It is renown for its shell-sand beaches and clear blue waters.
Often when on the Mainland people remark, “Oh! You’re from Tiree.”
And then explain their grandparents or their aunty came from the island.
It is famous for the number of seamen and church ministers it has produced.
And for many it sounds familiar because they have heard it on the shipping forecast.

The sun low down in the sky and about to set

On Friday the 7th April, 2000, the Independent Newspaper reported:
‘The litany of Radio 4’s shipping forecast beginning
“Tiree, Stornoway, Lerwick, Fife Ness …”
evokes an image of windswept observers
reporting fearlessly from stormy headlands around Britain.
Yet the romantic picture of one man and his binoculars has been destroyed
with yesterday’s announcement by the Meteorological Office
that the weather station on the Hebridean island of Tiree
is to be automated from next summer.’

The sun setting behind Glebe House, Gott Bay, Tiree

The Atlantic Ocean is a major influence on the weather Britain experiences.
Tiree is thus in a strategic position when it comes to reporting.
We are the most Westerly of the Inner Hebridean islands.

Sunday’s Sunset from the pier, Gott Bay, Tiree

For a number of years prior to 1924 Mr Ross,
the headmaster of the Cornaig School,
had been recording rainfall figures.

Birds fly low over the waters of Gott Bay at Sunset

Although there was a change of the school’s headmasters
in December 1925 a weather station was set up
on the south side of the school playground.

The sun has set leaving a red sky over the Lodge Hotel

The first report was filed on 16 September 1926.
At that time readings were taken at 7 am, 1pm and 6 pm.
In World War Two Tiree’s strategic Weather position was recognised.
518 Squadron which specialised in weather observations was stationed on Tiree.

A Red Sky at night is a sailor’s delight

It is not just seamen, skippers and church ministers Tiree has produced.
To this day there are those involved in the meteorological business
who come from the island and began their career here.

Sunday’s sunset creates the illusion of houses on fire!

Sitting out in the Atlantic Tiree enjoys big skies.
In the Summer this can extend the hours of daylight.
The Isle of Tiree is low lying and has no high mountains,
so we have less rainfall than our neighbour, the Isle of Mull,
but it does mean that there is nothing to moderate the wind when it blows.

It’s Sunday and a lone yacht experiences the joys of a Tiree Sunset

Weather is said to be a British obsession.
Here on Tiree we are particularly conscious of the weather.
For crofters and fishermen, shepherds and sailors the forecast is important.

Friday’s sky is dominated by clouds that attempt to cancel out the sunset

In the past, before, the advent of scientific forecasting,
crofters and fishermen, shepherd and sailors, relied on observation
and so on the island, as elsewhere, there is considerable weather lore.

On Friday to the east the sky looks more like the west!

In the Bible we read that Jesus said to the religious leaders of his day,
‘Red sky at night means fair weather tomorrow;
red sky in the morning means foul weather all day.’
You know how to interpret the weather signs in the sky,
but you don’t know how to interpret the signs of the times!’

On Friday the waters of Gott Bay reflected the colourful clouds at sundown.

The Meteorological Office explains the reasons for this phenomenon.
Generally speaking a red sky in the evening heralds good weather.
As this past week has proved, however, it is not always the case.
But then this is ‘Life on Tiree’.

On Friday – sunset, sea and sand combine to produce a colourful picture

For more on the history of weather reporting on Tiree see ‘Winds of Change’.
For a BBC explanation of our love of the Shipping Forecast see this video clip.