20 Nov 2022

MetService warns of risk of thunder, tornadoes for upper North Island

5:29 pm on 20 November 2022
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Photo: Twitter / Brennan Mullan

A Taranaki man who saw a tornado pass close to his home this morning says it's never something you get used to.

The tornado brought down powerlines leaving homes without power and damaged roofs.

It hit Motunui, just north of New Plymouth, at about 9.45am.

The tornado occurred about the same time as MetService issued a warning of the potential for severe thunderstorms in parts of the upper North Island which could bring damaging hail and wind and small tornadoes.

Taranaki resident Brendon McKenzie saw the tornado pass his home.

It destroyed his shed and sent his daughter's trampoline flying.

It came after a morning of humid weather and very heavy rain, McKenzie said.

"It was probably 40 metres, 50 metres outside of the window of our house and it moved on and you could actually see a funnel cloud.

"You never get used to it. It's always better when they are away from you, and you can see them. You're hoping no-one else is going to get hurt either."

A police spokesperson said some powerlines had been knocked down and slate roofing iron had come loose in the wake of the tornado.

Police have gone door to door in Turangi Road in Motunui to conduct welfare checks, but so far no issues have been reported.

Fire and Emergency also attended with two fire trucks, but they have now left the scene.

PowerCo said 37 properties in the Waitara area were without electricity, and it might not be restored until 6pm tonight.

MetService said humid and unstable conditions were expected to bring thunderstorms to many areas of the North Island today, with localised heavy rain and hail.

In Bay of Plenty, Waikato and Coromandel Peninsula the thunderstorms could be severe, with hail larger than 20 millimetres in diameter, wind gusts of over 110km/h, and small tornadoes.

MetService said if tornadoes occurred they were likely to be very localised.

It is also warning that the hail could be damaging to crops, glasshouses and vehicles, and the wind gusts could damage trees and powerlines.

The conditions are expected to ease around 7pm.

Last night the Auckland region was hit by a severe thunderstorm that left behind fallen trees, surface flooding, and property damage.

Heavy rain and hail battered the region with emergency services responding to more than 50 weather-related incidents from Hatfields Beach to Manukau.