New Zealand hit by ‘machine gun’ tornado
The New Zealand town of Levin was hit by a tornado, destroying power lines and crops and uprooting trees.
A low pressure system passing south of New Zealand brought a number of fronts filled with strong gale force winds, thunderstorms and hail on Friday.
In Cambridge, east of Hamilton, Newshub reports a woman needed rescue after being trapped and seriously injured by a falling tree.
In Levin, around 100km north of Wellington, residents were shaken and counting the damage bill when a thunderstorm caused chaos around 6.30am NZST.
Footage circulating on social media shows fences pulled down and buildings and roofs damaged.
Tyson Sager, a resident of Levin, told the NZ Herald he ‘jumped out of bed and looked out the window and I saw my mate’s car flying backwards down the road’.
“It was a red station wagon and it was just flying down the road and the wind was blowing it like nothing.”
Deputy Mayor Jo Mason told Newshub that downtown suffered “significant damage.”
“There were minor injuries with shards of glass.
“I didn’t know it was a tornado…it’s amazing,” she added.
Some of the city’s main streets are flooded, while huge trees and power lines litter others.
Police confirmed the formation of a tornado.
With a strong smell of gas in the air, police shut down State Highway 1 to investigate and repair the damage.
‘We will have staff in Levin today to reassure the community and assist with any clean up,’ a police spokesperson said.
Tornadoes are semi-common in New Zealand, with the weather agency NIWA reporting that 7 to 10 occur each year.
In June 2021, an Auckland port worker was killed on the job when a tornado ripped through the city’s southern suburbs.
Heavy hail landed in the nearby town of Ohau, where farmer Jay Clarke said the damage looked like “someone pulled out a machine gun and fired a machine gun at every cabbage, silver beet or lettuce in the paddock “.
“We are witnessing the worst hail damage in 44 years of growth in the district. Catastrophic would be the only word to describe it,” he told Radio NZ.
“There is nothing left of the harvest.”
Further north on Friday, Auckland’s Harbor Bridge was closed due to strong crosswinds exceeding 95km/h.
On the South Island, fronts associated with the low pressure system brought the first heavy snowfalls of the season.