This time last week I was woken by a frost fan in the valley at 1.30 am. Looking out of the window the night-time land and skyscape blended together into a deep mid-winter ghostly white. The frost fan might have been on auto and kicked into gear once the temperature dropped to a critical temperature. Frost fans are susceptible to ice, wind and fog; the blades ice-up and can make life tenuous for anybody in the immediate vicinity should the machine decide to shake itself to bits. Having had the pleasure myself of being turned out of the hammock to attend to the frost fans of a frosty Central night, you don’t want to think too long on the ‘what if’ scenarios. In any case, at full noise the machines are too windy, cold and noisy to contemplate lingering around the fans for long. Anyhow, the fans are an essential part of the frost fighting arsenal – one that you don’t mind losing sleep over when it comes to protecting the season’s crop.
It does seem that the local grape-growers escaped this bitter but brief return of winter as a strong sou’westerly weather pattern set up shop for a few days to blow away the snow and hold the frosty nights at bay. Happy to report that the region is back up to temperature now with 23ºC + days forecast for the next week or so. Check out the ‘go to’ website for viticulturists and sailors alike: http://metvuw.com/forecast
Incidentally, this winter in spring storm happened at the same time last year – this shot was taken at the end of October 2016 on the Queenstown flight path approach over Gibbston. The frost fan may, or may not, be the one mentioned above.
Just in case you think that I’ve taken off my weather-spotting anorak, I haven’t. This next photo was taken off St Clair beach in Dunedin the very next day. A small front passing over the area dropped the temperature by 10ºC in a matter of minutes as the wind clocked around 180º from nor’west to sou’east. Photo credit M.