Earlier this evening the sky over Wellington was delighting more than just passing shepherds. Not only was it glowing red but also yellow, pink, orange and some colour that might be called cerise.
After a glorious and calm summer’s day (I can say that as December is officially summer) the sun put on a fantastic light show to entertain us as it dropped slowly below the western horizon.
Having successfully survived Wellington’s recent storm, we started to think of other storms we’d been through – and the one that sprung to mind first was, funnily enough, an Italian storm.
It was during our stay in Positano in November 2011. After unusually good weather we were warned by the locals that the weekend was going to be stormy. It happened to be a weekend when we had visitors from the UK and New Zealand staying with us at Villa Greta.
Now, please understand, by storm we mean weather that was less than idyllic. Which involved wind (a bit), rain (not a lot) and seas that were rough (all to be taken in context of the Med just being a giant bath).
Our Saturday started with a visit the the beach at Positano and a late breakfast at Buca de Bacco. Apart from a strong breeze and the overcast conditions the only clue that there was a storm was the surf hitting the wharf. But despite the poor weather the resident beach artist was painting – as he does every day – a beautiful sunny vista full of blue skies, blue seas, bright sun and Bougainvillaea cascading down the sides of houses on the hill, somewhat at odds with reality.
In the afternoon we drove down the coast to Amalfi. The roads were treacherous and largely awash in places. The Amafi Coast has no real storm water drainage system – other than the water rushing downhill towards the sea as fast as possible – down streets, across roads and over cliffs until eventually ending up in the sea. This system meant we were often driving along roads more like rivers and through villages where every lane was a steam cascading towards the sea.
In Amalfi the sea was crashing against shore and the sea side carpark that we had used only a few months previously in summer was now forming the breakwater and largely underwater. The wonderful thing was that, by the time we had driven up from Amalfi to the top of the cliffs to Ravello the weather had cleared and we had magnificent views looking east along the coast towards Salerno. Normal transmission had resumed.
Wellingtonians are hardened to winter wind. Wind that anywhere else would be called a gale is referred to as a strong breeze in Wellington. Any wind that doesn’t physically blow you over is a mere zephyr. It takes something exceptional to get the attention of Wellingtonians.
Last night the weather had our full attention. A storm that originated at the South Pole has been sweeping up the country over the last 24 hours. For everywhere other than Wellington it meant snow but for us it meant rain -with accompanying gale force winds up to 140km/h.
At one point 25,000 people were without power partly due to trees being blown over and taking power lines with them. House rooves started to lift and outdoor signage took to the air.
Our place took to shuddering as each gust of wind arrived and the curtains bowed out from the windows as the wind found new ways to sneak into the house. The garden took on the look of a bomb site as leaves and branches and rubbish bins and patio chairs blew around settling far from where we last left them. Both Poppie and Bella simply refused to go outside and everyone decided the best place to be was in bed.
This morning the full extent of the damage became apparent. One of the olive trees we planted about 8 years ago had succumbed to the wind and lay parallel to the ground. We had talked about removing this tree over summer but couldn’t bring ourselves to do the deed – to wield the saw. It’s ironic that mother nature has done it for us.