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Tornado damages property in Northland

A Northland woman escaped unhurt when a tornado ripped part of the roof of her house early today.

The tornado ripped a 75-metre swathe of destruction through Kaiwaka, 62km south of Whangarei about 1am, tearing off half the woman’s roof, leaving the other half intact.

Firemen headed to the house were greeted by insulation batts and other debris flung about by the wind, Kaiwaka chief fire officer John Bowman.

“I have never seen it (damage) quite as bad in a house.”

Power to the house was down after the wires were ripped out of the meter box.

His crew helped the woman moved furniture from the damaged side of the house to the undamaged side, where it was protected from the weather.

Firefighters also covered the house with tarpaulins.

“It is part of our job to help people,” he said.

He said the woman was distressed but her sense of humour did not desert her.

“She said she had never had so many men in her bedroom before,” Mr Bowman said. was the only weather forecaster to predict the risk of a tornado in Northland overnight and was the only forecaster on Saturday to predict tornados for the Kapiti region.

Wild weather continued to bash much of the country overnight, as high winds, heavy rain and snowfall came down hard on many parts of the North and South Islands.

Queenstown police are urging motorists to take extra care on the roads following heavy snow fall.

The Lindis Pass between Central Otago and the Mackenzie Country was closed and other roads were being assessed.

Police said drivers should use common sense and slow down.

Heavy rain and snowfall also affected areas including Fiordland and South Westland. A Saudi Arabian family knew they were a long way from Riyadh when they spent Sunday night trapped in their campervan on the snow-bound Crown Range pass.

They were not freed until about 1pm yesterday.

The Alsuhaibani family set out in their rented campervan from Wanaka to Queenstown about 7.30pm on Sunday.

They became stuck about 2km from the 1067m road summit, in a place without mobile phone coverage, and a large snow drift formed around the large camper overnight.

Dr Ali Omar Alsuhaibani hitched to Queenstown for chains about 8.30am, leaving his cold and concerned wife, Aisha, five children and a family friend in the camper. He caught a taxi back.

Several weather alerts and severe warnings were issued in a number of areas including Auckland, where heavy rain lashed the city as people headed home from work.

Winds of up to 120 km/h and hail of 10-25mm in diameter were forecast. head analyst Philip Duncan described the weather as volatile and was encouraging people to stay indoors.

Mr Duncan, who had been making updates on the Weatherwatch Facebook page, said there was a report of a funnel cloud over the Manukau Heads at one point. issued a special Storm Alert for thunderstorms at 5pm.  50 minutes later MetService did the same, issuing a Severe Thunderstorm Watch.  It was lifted shortly before 8pm.

– Homepage image / File, a tornado hit Northland in July 2009 /

– NZPA, Herald staff,



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