Archive for the ‘wind power’ Category

I have some problems with “10:10”, the latest timebound big media campaign. The first one is symbols and aesthetics. They are handing out tags made of aluminium alloy cut out of a retired B737 down at Hurn. This is meant to be recycling, and wonderfully symbolic.

No. A superbly engineered artefact has been reduced to trinkets that will very likely go into landfill. Couldn’t they have made the bits into wind turbine blades, or solar stoves, or bicycle frames if you must, or even just wiggly tin roofing? Or something, at least? Instead, it’s a poster example of what Bill McKibben calls “downcycling”. And, of course, it’s the wrong bloody problem anyway; we could shut down aviation tomorrow and not meet the 10:10 goal, but lose fast international travel anywhere but a smallish chunk of Western Europe.

Another example; the climate campers apparently held a course on running a 12v power supply for a sound system, driven by someone pedalling. Well…engineering FAIL. If the only possible source of power is pedalling a bloody bike, wouldn’t it be better to keep the bike and the calories for transport? Would a stereo be a high priority then? Wouldn’t it be better to use the wind, the water, or the fire with a Sterling engine? In context, solar PV would be way out of the question. (I was pretty impressed by the edit your own sousveillance vids one, though.)

Not so sure about content, either. The Guardian is of course a biased source here; but they only found one person who wanted to build anything. An architect, of course. The front page coverage made me want to give up and buy a huge car; here’s blonde Daisy, 16 and mugging for 14, suggesting we “grow veg on the balcony”. Darling. Couldn’t they have found Keisha-Tigrette from Tottenham who wants to KILL OIL IN THE EAR? I think they probably couldn’t, and we’ll get to that later.

As with most British media green pushes, there’s little sign of any interest in anything physical or lasting. Not an inch of rockwool. Everything is about changing your behaviour, and specifically micro-behaviour – what you buy, or turning off lights, not how you work or where you live or how society works. Worse, it’s a demand for entirely free-floating behavioural change – nobody seems to be suggesting any way of monitoring or measuring the change, or any incentives. This isn’t going to work. And, again, it’s all consumer guff.

The problem with consumer guff is that it’s a limited way of approaching the problem. It’s arguable whether or not investment is the defining value in the macro-economy – it’s pretty clear that it’s crucial to the climate/energy position. It is defined by the stuff we build. And further, without any mechanism to keep up to it, nothing is more evanescent than promises to do better. It doesn’t even take backsliding to break them; what if you lose your job, and have to move somewhere where you need to commute 40 miles to work? Alas poor 10% saved by being nicer.

It’s tough, however, to suck insulation out of the walls; this is one of the reasons I’m keen on retrofits as an alternative to winter fuel payments. The Tories can’t take them away once they’re done.

My third problem is this: where is the optimism? Everyone’s talking about demog-friendly nostalgia for rationing that the demographic in question doesn’t remember. That’s not a sacrifice; woodbines, box at the Empire, sixpence, yadda yadda. Nobody is saying: Let’s do BETTER this time. Let’s build something BIGGER and SHINY and DRAMATIC and FANTASTIC and OUTRAGEOUS that doesn’t just meet a 10% target but SMASHES it.

Where is the future in all this? What kind of a future is it? How are we meant to be full of confidence and aggression without it?

Actually there are some other options, chiefly RAGE and HATRED. No sign of them, either; but identifying an enemy is the oldest motivator in the book. There’s no sign of a stinking mob hunting British Gas fatcats or an army of Rosie the Riveters basting Vladimir Putin like a turkey with their sealant guns. Why the hell not? We have enemies – why not make the most of them. I bet Keisha would be delighted to have King Abdullah and the CEO of Exxon burned in effigy, or perhaps just burned…after the block gets superinsulated.

Unfortunately, we’re relying on self-righteousness as the driving emotion; not optimism (shorthand: lust), not greed, not rage, not hatred. Mind you, it is clearly an infinitely renewable resource, just like stupidity.

And while I’m on the point, where are the workers in this? Who’s monitoring what exactly the council, or the diddly-dee semi-privatised thingy organisation, does when they refurbish the estate? Does anyone care about the “fuel poor” if they can’t offer them a cash handout just before the elections?

There is, actually, a powerful response to some of this. That is: 10:10 looks a bit like a vacuous PR stunt because it’s a PR stunt. The aim is to influence the deliberatiwoos in Copenhagen. Superistical. Das ist gut so. But this done, treaty signed, etc, we’ve got to go implement. With the North Sea gas running down, we’ve got to do that quicksmart anyway.

So, you ask, where are my positive proposals? The D-word? Well, I’m interested to hear what anyone else thinks about a campaign for an answer to climate and energy issues that points forward, that leans left, and that isn’t based on whose-kid-are-you media bullshit. I’m planning to squirt sealant into every corner of my own place before this winter, too.



This year’s EIA Electric Power Annual shows that the majority of new electricity generation in the US is now accounted for by wind. And there’s a great paper from Stanford University here on the alternatives for powering the transport sector.

The shorter is that electric vehicles using wind power are the best possible alternative, but the bit that surprised me was just what a thrashing the producers of Gay Electricity give to all the other options. There has been a good deal of handwaving about how much land wind power uses, multiplied by even handwavier figures for Indirect Land-Use Change CO2 emissions; but yer man estimates that powering the US transport sector that way would use six orders of magnitude less footprint than biofuel and three orders of magnitude less than nuclear.

The others gain something back when he considers the space between the turbines, but even then, it is far from enough to save the day. The energy payback time is as little as 4 months in a design life of 30 years. It’s hilarious, in a grim way, that so many people who should know much better think wind is some sort of weird caprice invented by Gordon Brown to annoy them personally.

This really is getting strange. The Tories look worryingly convinced of the wisdom of a plan to build a gigantic airport in the North Sea, split between two separate islands, because you never need to change the runway a plane is going to depart from…right? At the same time, the Government is considering a gigantic tidal power scheme in the Bristol Channel. It’s like French engineering civil servants seized control in a bloodless coup.

In fact it’s not; they would at least think they were being rational, but surely not even the promoters of this weird rush to create Big Dumb Objects all over the shop can believe this.

On the one hand, you’ve got the Tories, who are trying to convince themselves that they can find £40 billion, before inevitable cost overruns, to create a operationally crippled airport 53 miles from central London and only 101 miles from the nearest point of Dutch territory, dependent for land transport on spare capacity on the CTRL and on the 6 (I think) Crossrail and 2 LTS train paths an hour slated for the Southend/Shoeburyness route, and for road access on pure handwaving.

BorisWatch deserves some kind of medal for their reporting here; they successfully derived the actual location of the project by following Boris’s boat trip in real time on ShipAIS, a ship-tracking ham radio site, and then prepared a handy Google Map, which is where I got the measurements from.

How often, I wonder, would Borisport be fogged in? Even with CATIIIA/B autoland it’s a serious constraint, and enough of it will stop ground operations even if you can still get in. And then there’s all those heat-seeking gulls to worry about; they hunt in packs! The air traffic control issues are pretty gnarly, too – departures conflicting with arrivals into LHR, LCY and LGW.

Further, they want to be seen as “green” whilst also creating another Heathrow-and-a-half. But why? What is it with this obsession with airports in the Thames estuary? As always, the key to the present lies in the past. Here’s the Hansard transcript of the debate on the Maplin Development Bill back in 1973. Three things come to mind – first of all, weren’t MPs great back then? Of course, there is the usual parish pumpery, Bufton Tuftonism and tiresome faff, but there’s also a lot of well-informed intelligent debate, and in the end the government lost!

Second, all the problems are still the same. This is because they are mostly what the Soviet general staff called the permanently-operating factors – terrain, human terrain, infrastructure. Third, there’s a fascinating bit of the social history of ideas here. We join the debate with Douglas Jay MP on his feet, following up an excellent showing (or shoeing) from Tony Crosland…

Mr. Jay: What was the pressure exerted on the Roskill Commission to omit Stansted from its short list? The Times told us on 4th March 1969 that its inclusion would have been “emotive”. At the same date the Financial Times said that its omission was “diplomatic”. The British Airports Authority and the Board of Trade assumed that it was bound to be on the short list. The British Airports Authority was even told that it need not ask the commission to put it on because it was certain to be included. Yet it was omitted, and the commission’s work was handicapped from the start. 700 Thus handicapped, in my opinion the Roskill Commission did its very best. Faced with the resulting choice between Foulness and a South Midlands site for which there is a good deal to be said, it came down decisively against Foulness and in favour of Cublington.

Then we had another curious alliance between landed interests in Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire opposed to Cublington and commercial interests anxious to develop Foulness—

Mr. Norman Tebbit (Epping): Before the right hon. Gentleman leaves the point about Stansted, in fairness to my predecessor in this House I ought to say that he was one of those opposed to the Stansted project. I would never think of him as being in the pockets of wealthy landowners or any set of that kind. It happens that I disagree with him on this issue as on many others, but it is right to be fair to him. Incidentally, I have a house on the approach to Stansted too.

Mr. Jay: I never suggested that. I was recalling what happened. According to The Times of 5th April 1971, the group resisting Cublington spent £50,000 “to persuade the Roskill Commission that the airport should be built at Foulness and not at Cublington”—” not just that it should not be built at Cublington but that it should be built at Foulness.

After the Roskill Commission’s report, this group spent a great deal more, and the same article in The Times said that the pro-Foulness propaganda groups together spent “at least £700,000” to convince the public and Parliament that Foulness was the right solution.

At this point Sir John Howard enters the argument. According to the article in The Times that I have quoted, he was head of a civil engineering firm and, incidentally, a former chairman of the National Union of Conservative and Unionist Associations, though no doubt that is irrelevant. He happened to live near Thurleigh in Bedfordshire and he founded the Thames Estuary Development Company to promote the Maplin project. The Times says that Sir John “first lighted on Foulness during the fight against Stansted, in which he was closely involved.”

He “lighted” on Foulness as it were by chance. His consortium, backed also by RTZ, John Mowlem and Shell, spent more than £500,000 in supporting the Foulness case. Much of the driving force in all this thus came not from people impressed with the merits of Foulness but from those who wanted to keep the airport away from other sites.

Here I return to the speech of the hon. Member for Southend, East. What was the opinion of more than 150,000 people living in the Southend area about this? That is for them and their representatives to say, and I am sure that we shall hear the hon. Member for Essex, South-East (Sir Bernard Braine)—

Sir Bernard Braine: I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be accurate. There are 310,000 people living in the three constituencies bounded by the Thames and the Crouch who are affected by this proposal.

Mr. Jay: I always believe in understatements because they strengthen one’s case. The hon. Gentleman has strengthened my case further. What were the opinions of those 300,000 persons—far more than live within 20 miles round Stansted, perhaps three times as many? I am sure that the hon. Member for Southend, East will not question this as a fact. But I understand that with the support of the leader of the Southend Corporation the corporation took a share in Sir John Howard’s consortium, and the town clerk of Southend, according to The Times, became a director of it. Whether that was the best way of handling these matters, I have no doubt that all those concerned thought that they were acting in the best interests of Southend.

Sir S. McAdden: The right hon. Gentleman asked what were the opinions of the people of Southend. They were never consulted. This was a decision of the council to invest £100,000 of the ratepayers’ money in Tedco. The council thought that it would make £6 million. Instead, it has lost the lot.

Mr. Jay: It is what I have always suspected to be the truth. I stated it rather diffidently, but the hon Member for Southend, East has confirmed it. From the point of view of this House, the opinion of the Roskill Commission on Maplin is worth a good deal more than 702 that of this consortium formed in the way that I have described.

I am afraid that what emerges from the story is that both the selection of Maplin and the omission of Stansted have been influenced far too much by the money spent on the commercial publicity and far too little by serious consideration of the public interest.

I see Tebbit was already as much of an arse as he later became, too. Permanently operating factors in the human terrain.

More seriously, I’m fascinated by the fact that the whole idea of Maplin/Foulness/Sheppey/Marinair/Borisport pushed by three different Conservative administrations originates with a gaggle of Tory squires trying to win a planning row in some completely different bit of the country. I wonder if Sir John Howard ever seriously meant it? Or did it just get out of hand? The Tories always will be the party of the Landed Interest, just as when their first response to the great crash of 2008 was to look for handouts to their property-shark contingent; another permanently operating factor.

Meanwhile, over the wall, the Government has aimed squarely for a soggy compromise. My own views on Heathrow expansion are heterodox and unpopular. Here goes: I don’t particularly mind if aviation makes up 29% of the 2050 CO2 target, so long as we get there. Nobody sets out to emit CO2 – it’s waste, and when did you last hear of someone saying “Thank God our widget production line produces so many widget flakes we have to dispose of”? Converting stuff into more valuable stuff is what it’s all about, and any production of valueless stuff makes us poorer.

I’m with James Hansen on this one – it’s the coal-fired power stations, stupid, and the buildings. If we can’t fix the cars and buildings and power generation, it doesn’t matter a fucking jot what we do about aviation. Because, after all, buildings are easy, power and cars are getting easier, aeroplanes are hard. We’re not far now; look at this hub-drive electric motor project at Michelin. Solar and wind are now the leading sources of new electrical power.

And, if there must be expansion, it ought to be at an existing airport because of the ATC issues. And if we’re going to be expanding an existing airport, well, it may as well be the one the airlines want to use. Further, it’s good to maintain the various conventions that limit activity at Heathrow – I was surprised to see that mixed-mode operation accounted for almost a third of the expected capacity increase. And yes, I did hold this view when I lived there.

And if we’re doing this, we ought also to do other things, like building a north-south high-speed rail route and better public transport in general – saving oil and CO2 emissions for things that we can’t yet substitute. Like insisting on change to the European ATC system, which could save 10% or more of the air fuel requirement without pouring concrete or sacrificing anything at all. Like air-source heat pumps and insulation, or…well, enter your favourite project here.

Unfortunately, the government has no credibility on this. Neither does it have any credibility on the eventual target for movements at LHR anyway – they always burst the target, which isn’t included in an act of parliament and therefore is pretty meaningless. And their efforts to balance the Heathrow decisions are crap – a high speed rail “hub” at LHR? On a line from where to where? Great Western electrification is good, but this sounds like a piece of recreational investment that might seriously harm the prospects of building a proper LGV network.

And the responsible minister is Geoff. Fucking. Hoon. Of all people. Aren’t you in jail? Aren’t you dead yet? (I suppose that does not die which can eternal lie.) And so, I conclude, I’d better oppose it anyway. It’s the only way to be safe.

Meanwhile, across the way, the Tories want to “examine” high speed rail. Woo. More talk. And, ah, build a forty billion quid airport in the sea, whilst keeping Heathrow open as well (good luck with the 70-odd mile transfer!). As someone said:

Our government is pitiful, whoever you vote for.

They surely can’t mean this; back in 1969, the Foulness scheme was a political manoeuvre, a Straussian statement. I suspect its resurrection is something similar.

What are they trying to hide? Is this an effort to kibosh offshore wind development? Are Dave from PR, Gideon and Boris climate change deniers? Or what?

Well, very cool. Yahoo has an API that’s meant to let you do database-like read operations on anything web – you just pass your SELECT… statement and the URL and a few other arguments, and it chucks back a JSON document with your information. I haven’t managed to make it do anything interesting yet, but then, my requirements may be strange. And it doesn’t do SELECT COUNT… or GROUP BY… statements, so there are some fairly strict limits on its usefulness. It’s true, however, that had it existed a while ago it would have rendered part of the Viktorfeed much easier. But, y’know, it’s mine.

I’m tempted, once I manage to make it do something useful, to build a sort of Web 2.0 turducken – after all, the query could be applied to a Google search URL, or better, to the Google archive of USENET.

The new version of IBM Many Eyes lets you provide various kinds of URLs as data sources in a visualisation, and I could embed that in the blog, and if only would let you do that, the initial request would be initiated by something running on a WordPress website, using an IBM backend, to slurp data from a Yahoo! URL, that points at an SQL emulator somewhere in there, that gets data from an HTML parser in there, that operates on query results from Google, results which originate from some bored and kinky academic shooting the breeze over an underutilised departmental T-1 in 1992. Perhaps I could work in updates on Twitter, too.

But doesn’t this remind you of something – specifically the joke about the convoluted program which involves a document being printed out, placed on a brown table, photographed, and scanned? Think of all those layers of caching servers, app servers, Web frameworks, standard libraries, bureaucracy, operating systems, virtualisation, before you get to an actual computer. No wonder Richard Stallman don’t like it.

This tension has always defined the culture of IT; the Big Database, the mainframe, the semiconductor fab on one side, the Lone Hacker and the Garage Startup on the other. Like all good myths, it’s highly flexible in practice; a lot of people started off as the second and made the ancient march to the right as they got old and rich and conservative, and the very origins of the second are in huge state-run research labs.

It’s also highly ambiguous – people who at least think they are on the side of the second are often the archetypal Internet libertarians and the warbloggers yelling for torture, and doesn’t the ordered, white concrete Arthur C. Clarke world of the first sound good now?

In an out of the way corner of Oregon, Amazon is joining Google and Microsoft in building a really enormous data centre, to take advantage of cheap hydroelectricity and water cooling. The power comes from the New Deal. At the end of the 1930s, the US Federal Government built a string of big dams there; their first customer for the power was the aluminium industry as it geared up first to supply the RAF and then to create the USAAF. As a result, Boeing would build the 707, B-47, B-52, 727, 747, 737, 757, 767, and 777 in Seattle.

Today, it’s still the Bonneville Power Administration which Amazon will be paying for the electricity and cool water its IT factory needs. You can’t get around the infrastructure. Decisions we take now will last as long; will there one day be an IT equivalent of the Lochaber smelter, somewhere with fibre in the ground and wind in the sky?

Shorter Tim, Energy Edition:

Commodity prices always come down in the end; except when I really want the price of steel to stay at 2007 levels because it harms the economics of wind power. Further, supply of manufactured goods always responds to price signals except when I have a bizarre ideological opposition to some particular technology. And nuclear power is magically proof against the price of materials, the cost of labour, the rate of interest, and the planning process.

Tim – nuclear power stations are made from reinforced concrete. What is reinforced concrete reinforced WITH? Perhaps this is why he doesn’t go on about his metals trading business so much these days.

Actually, the article he’s drivelling about is fairly sensible and much more optimistic than either Timmeh’s deranged take on it or the Obscurer‘s headline; it is here. Basically, the worldwide boom in wind power is putting the industry under capacity constraints; like, say, the semiconductor industry in the PC boom. They can sell’em for almost any price as fast as they come off the line, and they’ve built up a huge order book. Of course, what will eventually happen is that the wind turbine makers will expand and probably eventually end up flooding the market in a few years’ time. This will, however, definitively not happen with nuclear, because a nuclear power station is essentially a working definition of one-off job production; it’s a hell of a lot easier to make something cheap when you’re making thousands of it on a production line.

Further problems mostly centre on the planning process; both for turbines and for grid interconnection.

Of course, in Timmehworld this shouldn’t be happening, because wind power is a bizarre plot organised by British socialists, which no-one else in the world would possibly use. But Tim lives in Portugal, one of the world’s biggest and fastest wind developers; and as far as I know, the hens haven’t stopped laying, the skies have not darkened, and the rain has not become chubby there. This doesn’t change the essential issue, though; his problem is that it’s gay electricity.

Ah, MEND – everyone’s favourite dark-globalisation guerrilla gang, whose strategy is based on the world oil market as they career around Nigeria in RIBs with six or so huge outboards and silly numbers of heavy machine guns, while God knows where their leader/committee/nameless mobile phone number is. You can see why the defence establishment loves to worry about’em; like the Vikings, the Hell’s Angels, the rappers and the Viet Cong at once. Never get out of the boat, as someone said. J-Ro is always mad keen on them; I reckon they’re far more classically Marxist, fighting for a better share of the resource export money.

But I think their campaign may be slipping. Here’s why.

Reuters Alertnet reports them issuing a wave of threats to foreign oil workers on the 13th of September. On the 14th, they declare an oil war. What else was going on at that moment? Hurricane Ike was certain to hit the US oil infrastructure in the Gulf of Mexico by the 10th or thereabouts – the landfall was on the 13th. It was the perfect moment for a global guerrilla group to hit the infrastructure of a major oil exporter. But the price of oil was dropping sharply; even threats to step it up further only had a marginal impact.

On the 21st of September, MEND announced a ceasefire; you’ll note that the reduction in supply they achieved was around 150,000 barrels a day. The day after this, the oil price jumped wildly; the best explanation for this is a classic bear squeeze, as that particular day was a witching (the last day to buy oil before the futures contract for that month expired).

So what’s going on? Here are the figures for US oil demand in the relevant period. The demand for oil fell by 1,400,000 barrels a day compared with the same week a year before, which was itself down on the year before. That is no small quantity. That’s not too far off half Iran’s exports, and it’s ten times the cut in output MEND can reliably achieve when its leaders call for it. This is interesting; strategy beats tactics, after all, and the power of the global guerrilla is meant to be based on a permanently hypersensitive infrastructure.

Part of this is due to international trade in fuel, of course; but although there’s apparently a queue of ships in New York waiting to unload, I haven’t spotted a consistent spike in product-tanker rates, as opposed to VLCC ones, yet.

Meanwhile, every wind turbine is a vote for independence from Russia.

There’s something about this, that I’m not sure if I find intensely cool or deeply disturbing; that is, of course, a neat definition of anything worth writing about. (It’s certainly the sci-fi project; thrilling wonder and uncanny menace.) So, a ski resort is short of snow due to the gradually warming winters; they make snow, but this uses lots of electricity, which costs money…and is actually making the problem worse.

Solution; they invest in a honkin’ great wind turbine, to make their own electricity. And snow; their electricity demand profile peaks in the winter, which also happens to be the windiest period of the year. The wind blows; the blades spin; the snow cannons plaster the slopes. The parallel with da Vinci’s fantasy that his helicopter would bring snowflakes down from the Dolomites to scatter in the stinking hot piazzas of August is clear.

But there’s something horribly…baroque about it.

Bacon Butty piles on to one of the notions I criticised here. Food miles are, if anything, less useful than embodied energy as a policy target – after all, a whacking 22 per cent of CO2 attributed to UK food transport originates from sea and air transport. Obviously, the first place to start, especially as something like 33 per cent is attributed to trucks within the UK and zero to rail transport.

It’s also worth remembering that one of the reasons for the supermarket airfreight phenomenon is that the airlines found they had spare capacity on aircraft coming back from various places in Africa. As any trucker could tell you, a backload is pure profit, as the costs are covered on the outward journey. To put it another way, it’s no net increase in CO2 emission unless the route would otherwise be uneconomic and – this being the airline business – politically closeable.

Final thought? Forget all the intermediate interventions, and use the tax that gets to the cause of your problem. But it’s becoming a major political line of discourse that environment/energy issues are a question of consumerism, or rather, inverted consumerism. (Consider Martin Wight’s typology of international relations theories – Revolutionism, Rationalism, Realism, and Inverted Revolutionism. The last was pacifism.) Stop buying stuff! Better – buy expensive stuff that shows your moral character!

But looking at the data, this is ridiculously ineffective. What works is rockwool. That, and lithium-ion batteries, wind turbines, and incremental improvements on a range of other technologies. Not flying, or not buying airfreighted (or perceivedly airfreighted) goods, will do us no good at all. So why is Diddy Dave Cameron so keen?

My chippy reckoning is that it’s class. Anything involving changes to infrastructure or buildings will piss in a lot of Tory pools, from Grecian dukes discovering new laws of atmospheric chemistry to oppose wind power to nifty resellers flipping buy-to-lets in the M4 corridor, and make a lot of sparks very happy, and these things do not please Dave from PR. It’s the technocracy, stupid.

It’s a pity that Gordon Brown insists on taxing the poor into moral enlightenment.

So, Cyclone George tore through the old haunts, killing three people on a mining railway construction camp. Could have been worse, though – it got up to 275 Km/h.. This bloke stuck it out in South Hedland, and has photos.

Looks like Port Hedland, Western Australia, is about to get hit head-on by a major cyclone, and Marble Bar just afterwards..this blogger has the last dispatch.

Media: Transmitters serving the area between Dampier and Sandfire Roadhouse are
requested to sound the Standard Emergency Warning Signal before broadcasting the
following warning.


Issued at 9:05 pm WDT on Thursday, 8 March 2007

A CYCLONE WARNING for a SEVERE CATEGORY 4 cyclone is now current for coastal
areas from Dampier to Sandfire Roadhouse and inland to Tom Price, Newman,
Paraburdoo, Marble Bar and Nullagine.

At 9:00 pm WDT Severe Tropical Cyclone George was estimated to be
70 kilometres northeast of Port Hedland and
55 kilometres west northwest of Pardoo
and moving south at 20 kilometres per hour.

Severe Tropical Cyclone George is approaching the coast near Port Hedland. On the current movement the cyclone is likely to cross the coast between Port Hedland and Pardoo within the next few hours. Recent observations at Bedout Island indicate gusts to 275 kilometres per hour are occurring near the centre of the cyclone.

VERY DESTRUCTIVE winds with gusts to 275 kilometres per hour [170 mph] will be experienced close to the cyclone centre as the system crosses the coast.

DESTRUCTIVE winds with gusts to 170 kilometres per hour [105 mph] have developed on the central Pilbara coast between Port Hedland and Pardoo, and will extend inland with the cyclone centre.

GALES with wind gusts to 120 kilometres per hour are expected through the remaining parts of the warning area overnight and tomorrow.

WIDESPREAD HEAVY RAIN and FLOODING are likely across the Pilbara, with falls in
excess of 200 millimetres possible close to the cyclone track.

DANGEROUSLY HIGH TIDES could cause EXTENSIVE FLOODING at the coast between
Sandfire Roadhouse and Whim Creek.

Residents on the coast between Sandfire Roadhouse and Whim Creek including Port Hedland, are specifically warned of the potential of a VERY DANGEROUS STORM TIDE as the cyclone crosses the coast. On the current track Port Hedland is specifically under threat. Tides are likely to rise significantly above the normal high tide mark with very dangerous flooding and damaging waves.

Details of Severe Tropical Cyclone George at 9:05 pm WDT.

Location of centre : within 35 kilometres of
latitude 19.9 south longitude 119.1 east
Recent movement : south at 20 kilometres per hour
Central Pressure : 910 hectopascals
Maximum wind gusts : 275 kilometres per hour near the centre.
Severity category : 4

FESA-State Emergency Service advises of the following alerts.
RED ALERT: People in or near coastal communities of Port Hedland, Whim Creek, Pardoo, Marble Bar and Nullagine should move to shelter.
YELLOW ALERT: People in or near coastal communities between Sandfire Roadhouse and Dampier including Roebourne, Wickham, Karratha, Point Samson, Dampier and in or near the inland communities of Tom Price, Pannawonica and Paraburdoo should be taking action in readiness for the cyclone’s impact.

Hell fire. I worked near the Bar, Corunna Downs station, in the autumn of 1998 – now doesn’t that feel like a long time ago? – and I remember a few cyclone alerts that didn’t materialise.

But this one is going all the way to Baghdad. C-Downs is about 40 km East of the central track, the Bar a bit closer, but certainly close enough. Port Hedland is going to get hit like a hammer, though: here’s the view from the weather radar there. TCWC Perth tracker is here.

God, there’s a place with some evil pubs, right on the dockside where the 300,000 ton ore carriers growl by. Tonight, that’s *not* the place to be. After all, seas within 20 miles of the eyes are officially phenomenal. Ah, that’s the spirit all right.

Blogs: here, and here, and there’s always ‘Rati. I hope everyone’s all right.

Update: It’s ashore, 25 kms east of Hedland, Cat-4. Latest bulletin says it’s going to pass “close” to the Bar at Cat-3 or Cat-4. Scienceblogs’s Chris Mooney blogs.