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Cyclone Pam Blew Over Waiheke (and Auckland)

Stonyridge Winery, Waiheke Island, New Zealand. Photo by Tina.

Cyclone Pam passed over the north side of the North Island on Monday. We had expected some very dangerous weather.

What had actually happened: Pam’s skirt provided Sunday night with a good dose of rain. Since the weather was not uniquely poor, my American visitor and I went back out to Waiheke. We figured we could still go taste wine. On Monday afternoon, the weather turned for the better.

Vines at Goldie Vineyard, Waiheke Island, New Zealand. Photo by Tina.

The reason the Waiheke Vintage Festival is scheduled in March is because this is roughly the time of year that the grapes are picked. White wine grapes were already picked; the red grapes still need another three to four weeks.

The winery staffer I spoke to on Waiheke said island winemakers were concerned as to whether Pam could damage their red grapes, among other things (homes, etc). The Waiheke winemakers had a decision to make: Do they gamble and let the crops stay put, fingers crossed that the weather doesn’t wreck the grapes? This way, they can still have their three or four weeks more?

The island winemakers took the gamble; it worked out for Waiheke. Now, whether the red grapes in the Gisborne, Hawkes Bay region got picked or not is another story. That region was supposed to receive the brunt of Cyclone Pam, and news reports are now focusing on cleanup efforts.

Eventually, I will do a writeup of the Waiheke wineries we visited. To do it now is tone deaf. It would undermine the damage Pam did do in Vanuatu and along the east coast. New Zealand Red Cross is taking donations for its efforts here. Take this post as a “we’re OK” sort of post.

Prepping for Cyclone Pam

This is Waiheke Island, March 14, 2015: One day before Cyclone Pam, a category 4-5 storm, is expected to pound the North Island with rain and wind.

Mudbrick Winery on Waiheke Island, New Zealand. Photo by Tina.

Cyclone? What cyclone? I don’t see no cyclone — now. DO NOT LET THIS PICTURE FOOL YOU. At this point, Cyclone Pam just finished ruining Vanuatu. It’s bad.

Because of the impending storm, I took my visiting friend to Waiheke Saturday instead of Monday (when we originally had planned to go.) We lived together in Washington, DC, during hurricanes Irene and Sandy. What a warm welcome for her — “Kia ora, here’s some lovely scenery, also we lined up another hurricane for you to enjoy [sarcasm].”

On the ferry back, the sunset was pretty stunning, although not quite “red sky at night.”

Sunset over Hauraki Gulf, outside Auckland. Photo by Tina.

Despite the pretty day yesterday, the weather reports are warning the north part of the North Island to take precautions. This morning, Kiwi went out to buy food for tonight. The three of us will probably hunker down for Netflix and if the Internet craps out, Cards Against Humanity.

How bad will this storm be? We will see. This is a good time for me to start following all the relevant emergency response groups on social media:

Auckland Civil Defence and Emergency Management:
Facebook | Twitter: @AucklandCDEM

Met Service (weather forecasts):
Facebook | Twitter: @MetService

Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management:
Facebook | Twitter: @NZCivilDefence

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