The power of the wind …

Back in September, on Tuesday 10th, to be precise, I went with some friends to watch the NZ Breakers basketball team play a pre-season warm-up game in the evening in Christchurch.  They lost the game, but that’s just incidental.  Actually, going to the basketball was incidental as well.  The REAL story of the night was what happened after the game …

We exited the stadium to discover quite a strong wind had got up while we were safe inside, oblivious to what Mother Nature was preparing for us.  Gusty and blustery nor-westers (always the strongest winds in this neck of the woods), throwing dust in our eyes and paper and twigs in the air, they got stronger and stronger as I drove away from the stadium, actually shaking the car as I travelled down Main South Road.  I marvelled (with just a twinge or two of anxiety) at the large pieces of cardboard flying through the air, and flinched as small pieces of grit and twigs hit the windscreen.  Stopped to fill up at the petrol station on the outskirts of town, and that’s when I started to get a little more scared at just how strong this wind was.  Just as I turned into the station there was a flash and all the street lights went out – luckily the station lights were still going.  Opening my car door into the wind to get out was the next problem:  I ran the risk of either having it slam back on me (broken leg – broken arm – broken hand – several mashed fingers – being knocked out were, I felt, all very real possibilities), or else having the door ripped off its hinges if the wind caught it and swung it open …  With the wind the way it was, the attendants were all inside and not prepared to come out to help me, but after several attempts I finally made it out of the car without injury, only to be pinned against it by the force of the wind.  Grabbing hold of whatever I could to stay upright, I struggled round to the other side of the car, opened up the petrol cap, managed to fill the car and then made it across the forecourt to go inside to pay.   The heavy glass door to the station office was whipped out of my hand and slammed open by the wind, and a metal noticeboard surfed past me across the forecourt, hotly pursued by one of the attendants.  THIS WAS NOT FUN.  I had a 30-minute drive ahead of me, right into the teeth of the wind – and those teeth seemed to be getting bigger and nastier every minute …

Made it out of the petrol station and turned onto the highway heading west out of town.  There were now small branches being tossed around by the wind, several of them on the road, making driving a slow, cautious progress at 50kph instead of the usual 100kph.  A police car with flashing lights was up ahead, removing a large branch and other debris off the road.  A large digital roadside noticeboard warned me that the main route westwards was closed; I carefully turned off onto a secondary route westwards, which was my normal way home anyway.  A set of red vehicle lights loomed up out of the dark:  a large truck and trailer unit was stationary on the road, but I couldn’t see why, so I carefully overtook it, only to come to an urgent halt when I finally saw the huge tree down across the road ahead, with power lines dangling and whipping around in the gale-force winds.  I got out of there in a hurry, I can tell you!!  Felt sorry for the truckie – there was no way he could turn round, and reversing a big truck and trailer unit at that hour of night with no-one and no street lights to guide him, would have been almost impossible.

Luckily I was able to stay the night with a very good friend (the same one who sheltered me after the earthquakes in 2010), and made it home the next day, to find that there was no power and a large tree had fallen onto one corner of the house.  (Thank goodness I wasn’t home when that happened …)  With two large trees at the front of the house, right in the path of the winds which had abated only slightly over the past 24 hours, it was a very uncomfortable night with not a lot of sleep – at one stage it was so bad I seriously considered getting into my car and driving somewhere with no trees around and hunkering down in the back seat for the night:  finally put that out of my mind and just burrowed under the bedclothes and tried to block out the noise and all the what if  thoughts …  No power meant no water meant no shower, so it was back to my Good Friend the next morning for a shower before heading to work, and a gradual return to normal life. 

I still don’t like it now when the wind gets up, though, as it is tonight …

Anyway, here are some photos of some of the damage caused, both here at home and in town and on the roads around the district: one thing’s for sure, there’s going to be no shortage of firewood next year!

PS  One final picture:  two more victims of the wind …

DSCF9859 cropped


4 thoughts on “The power of the wind …

  1. And away we go again here today with 140kms winds predicted. Like you there will be no shortage of fire wood for next winter after losing so many trees around our area. I hope your home is repaired now and it is good to know you are safe. Sad for the thrushes.

    • They’re very scary, 140kmh winds – not quite the adrenalin level of the earthquakes, but not far off it, I have to say!! Luckily no major damage to the house, thank goodness 🙂 Lots more tree damage and power lines down again in inland Canterbury over the last couple of days – luckily nothing around me, although must confess the anxiety level was up last night as I lay in bed listening to it whistling through the trees outside … Just to look on the positive side for a moment, I visited someone today who lost so many trees in the last blow that they’ve probably got enough firewood for about 5-6 years already chopped up, and about the same still to go: suspect there will be many in the same position!

  2. Well now, that horrific wind obviously shook you up good and proper! Have been missing your blog. Hope no serious damage to your house.

    • Yup, it was a good blow all right – as I said, I’m just very glad I wasn’t home when the tree fell on the house, I reckon that might just about have finished me off! 🙂 Luckily no major damage, possibly because the tree was pretty close by and didn’t have too far to fall, so perhaps didn’t build up the speed which would have resulted in a greater impact – does that make sense? And I hope to get back into the swing of the blog again while relaxing with Jane and co. over the next 12 days – although she tells me she has lots of gardening lined up for me! And there’s also the big quilt show, of course, can’t miss that 🙂 Hope to catch up with Simon next weekend as well (he flew over last Wednesday). Really looking forward to the break 🙂


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