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History of the Island of Mull
Chapter III - Meteorology


It is stated that Mull is the most boisterous of any of the Western Isles. Owing to its fogs it has been called “The Island of Gloom.” In the habitable parts, the climate is mild. Owing to the varied surface there is some difference between the temperature of the different parishes. The rugged mountains of Torosay have their summits seldom free from snow, from the beginning of November to the middle of April. The mean temperature is 47 F., and the mean pressure of the atmosphere 29.75 inches. The prevailing winds are from the south-west, the west and the north-west; and often, during a hard gale, it blows successively from all three .points, in the order above stated. Rainy weather is indicated when the tops of the mountains become enveloped with thick clouds in motion; but when thin and broken fleeces of white mist appear slowly ascending from the mountain sides, and when the summits are partially covered, fair weather is prognosticated. The high mountains intercepting the vapors wafted by the wind from the surface of the ocean cause a great quantity of rain, which gives an annual fall of water ranging from sixty-five to one hundred and ten inches, all of which is beneficial to the soil. In the winter the strong gales and storms are sometimes preceded twenty-four hours before, by a brilliant appearance of the auro borealis in the northern regions of the heavens. The great fall of water does not affect the health of the people, owing to the soil being porous, which leaves but little stagnant water.

In the traditions of Mull tales of travellers being overtaken in snow storms are replete. Graham, in his “Birds of Iona and Mull,” gives his personal experience, in a rain storm, in Glen More, in the month of November.

“Before I got near the entrance of the great glen on the return journey it was nearly three o’clock. The morning, from being very bright, had gradually overcast, blackened, and now assumed a most threatening aspect; the inky-colored clouds hung upon the tops of the mountains, and seemed to be charged with pitch. The wind was very slight but it wailed and sobbed through the mountain gullies, and moaned in irregular gusts over the grey lichen-covered rocks in that peculiarly wild, melancholy manner which forbodes a dreadful storm. I hurried on as fast as I could, for I had many miles to walk through

‘This sullen land of lakes and bens immense;
Of rocks, resounding torrents, gloomy heaths,
And cruel deserts black with treachirous bogs;’

for I wished to reach the fords lest the coming rains should make the rivers impassible, and before the darkness of the evening, which was already closing in with unusual swiftness, would make the fords dangerous. The clouds now came rolling down the slopes of the mountains, till everything was obscured from sight by their pall of blackness. A sudden sharp blast of wind flew across the moor; and immediately it was calm again; the ends of my plaid fluttered heavily, once o;r twice streaming out before me. Doran (the dog), with tail and ears down, ran close up to my heels, and in a moment, with a crash like thunder, the storm burst upon us. The irresistible fury of the wind hurried me along the road as it rushed past, now roaring at my ear, and now howling and shrieking as it whirled along the valley. The river and lake foamed and boiled, and then rose up in circling eddies of spray, like wreaths of smoke, filling the air as the blast bore it away up the sides of the hill. The rain poured down in hissing sheets of water, deluging the whole face of the country; the road was covered with water, and every rivulet was swollen into a fierce torrent, bearing stones, and earth, and heat along with its turbid, coffee-colored waters. Add to all this the night soon set in intensely dark. I hurried on, assisted by the storm on my back, till at length I came to the rivers, which, happily, were still fordable, though sufficiently deep and rapid, and every moment becoming worse. After this the rain became heavier than I think I ever saw it before (unless in the tropics during the rainy season); it was difficult to keep the road in consequence of the darkness, but the hollow rumbling of the water pouring into the bog holes by the roadside gave warning of the danger of a false step. Happily the twinkling light from the window of Kinloch Inn was now glimmering through the darkness and storm across the head of Loch Scridain, and after a vigorous push for about a mile, crossing a narrow footbridge formed of two planks (which I had to do on all fours), and fording another bad torrent, I at length ran my nose up against the gable of the house, and, after groping along to reach the door, I next found myself standing before a huge fire of blazing peats.”

In the more exposed parts the strong winds have a detrimental effect on growing plants, and especially the exotic. During the early part of the growing season the shoots of trees and tender leaves, in exposed positions, by the heavy winds are prematurely injured. The young leaves are sometimes torn off by the force of the wind. Ov/ing to the prevalence of the western winds, the exposed trees acquire a characteristic one-sided shape, casting the greater development in the easterly direction. In the autumn the fruit crop is sometimes greatly injured.    .

The percentage of sunshine averages about twenty-eight per cent.,—the sunny and driest weather occur in April, May and June, and during that period the crops sometimes suffer from the drouth.


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