Two injured after Taranaki tornado touches down

5:26 pm on 12 August 2019

A woman has a suspected broken collarbone after being slammed into the side of her home during a tornado in New Plymouth this morning.

John Bamford outside his New Plymouth home that was damaged by the storm, which also injured his wife.

John Bamford outside his New Plymouth home that was damaged by the storm, which also injured his wife. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Wild weather in Taranaki this morning left hundreds of properties without power.

Roofs were lifted, windows blown in and another woman needed ambulance treatment after the car she was driving was struck by a flying trampoline on State Highway 3.

The twister came off the sea and touched down about 9.30am.

It cut a swathe through the New Plymouth Golf Club, felling trees and tossing aside shelters before ripping a roof off a home in Bell Block.

A wayward trampoline briefly halted traffic heading into the city as the tornado crossed State Highway 3 before slamming into John Bamford's farm house a couple of kilometres away on Paraite Road, in Lepperton.

Mr Bamford said it came out of nowhere.

"I was sitting at the table eating my breakfast, my wife was outside, and I suddenly heard this roar. It was raining and then it just went into a big roar and up it came and suddenly there was shit going everywhere.

"It picked up my outside table and threw it through the conservatory window. It came through the room, ripped out the window out in the lounge, ripped the ceiling down in the lounge. Threw shit everywhere and then carried on and started demolishing trees and ripped the front fence out."

Mr Bamford said his wife, Maxine, was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"She was outside, I think feeding a couple of orphan lambs and I think the wind got her and threw her against the house and it's broken her collarbone, that's all I know at this stage.

"I don't know if she's concussed or just in shock."

St John Ambulance confirmed it had transferred one patient -- who had suffered moderate injuries -- from Paraite Road to Taranaki Base Hospital.

The service also attended to a woman whose car had been struck by a trampoline on State Highway 3.

She did not need hospital treatment.

Linda and Wayne Jury had their roof ripped off.

Linda and Wayne Jury had their roof ripped off. Photo: Robin Martin

Before crossing the highway, the twister had wrecked the roof on Wayne Jury's two-year-old home on Cooke Farm Grove -- disturbing his breakfast as it did so.

"I was watching out the dinning room ranch slider cause we'd heard a bit of a noise and next minute it all went misty and the fence started plucking off so I just raced out of the line of the window.

"It tipped up the BBQ table and hit that sideways into the ranchslider and smashed the table, but I wasn't looking the rest of the time and when I opened my eyes again I came out and there was all this and I couldn't believe it."

Linda Jury was just happy no one in the cul de sac was hurt.

"It's only a house isn't it. No one was injured and it could've been real bad with the tin that was flying around and the roof, and you see how big some of the bits are that have flown around. It's just unbelieveable."

Ciara Parkes was on her way to New Plymouth Girls High School when she saw the Jury's roof take off.

"I was just driving down the road to school and then I looked in my rear view mirror and I saw all their roof come over my car. I didn't really know what it was. I thought a house got struck by lightning or something so I just carried on.

New Plymouth Girls High student is 17 year old Ciara Parkes stands in the debris  of a fence blown over.

New Plymouth Girls High student is 17-year-old Ciara Parkes stands in the debris of a fence blown over. Photo: Robin Martin

"And then I went on the highway to go to school and there were cars a few cars that had crashed and that's when my nana called -- cause she's my neighbour -- and said I'd better come home."

The Jury's roof had just smashed into the front of the 17-year-old's family home.

Another neighbour Beverley Webster saw it coming.

"We were over at the daughter-in-law's [house] and had just finished a coffee. It was so so calm I said to her 'there's no wind, it's the calm before the storm' and then next thing, whoops there's roofs flying, there's debris flying everywhere and so we just grabbed the dogs and ran into the lounge. I'm still shaking."

Beverley Webster stands outside her home.

Beverley Webster stands outside her home surveying the damage. Photo: Robin Martin

MetService meterologist Lewis Ferris said the weather radar had shown signs of a possible tornado this morning and there was a high chance of further thunderstorms tonight with a small tornadoes also a possibility.

"A couple more bands could be thrown that way throughout the afternoon, evening and into the night time period where we still have a moderate risk for severe thunderstorms through until midnight with a high risk for thunderstorms, so we've encompassed damaging winds with that and small tornados possible."

And you do find yourself in the midst of a tornado take a word of advice from John Bamford -- who reckoned he had seen about five go past his home in the 46 years he had lived there -- get out of the way.

"I suddenly saw it and I thought hell that's a tornado and I thought 'err how do I stop it?' And you can't. I know that now."

Powerco said about 800 properties were without power this morning due to storm damage, but by this afternoon the number of customers affected in New Plymouth, Inglewood and Waitara was about 500.