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It appears a small tornado has ripped through Cambridge, lifting roofs, downing trees and leaving the area without power.

Emergency services received around 30 calls between 3 and 3.30am, when the tornado travelled in a near straight line through the middle of the town.

Head weather analyst Philip Duncan says the small tornado or squall was caused by humid, unstable, conditions as a cold front moved through.  “I’ve been through one of these and they are incredibly scary.  Last night the humid, unstable air created some big clouds and some very heavy downpours – this was either a small tornado or a squall, both of which can turn a gentle breeze into a wall of wind moving at well over 100km/h in just a matter of seconds”.

It lifted the roofs of several properties including the Oakdale Resthome on Tennyson St. Tracy Espin who was working at the home says she heard what at first sounded like a truck approaching at around 3am. But she says the noise became very loud, so she opened the sliding doors to take a look and saw the funnel of wind rushing towards the building. She says it lifted the roof of one wing of the complex and blew out manholes. A water main has burst, causing flood damage to several residents’ rooms.

Residents were awoken and assembled in one room while the situation was assessed. Most were able to return to their rooms.

A Fire Service communications spokesman says there are massive problems due to the number of powerlines downed by the fierce wind.

Mr Duncan says the front that brought the heavy downburst is now moving into the Tauranga region. 

Newstalk ZB

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