A petrified Greymouth woman hit the floor when she saw a tornado barrel down on her South Beach property yesterday.
Christine Adams said she was sitting in the lounge of her house, on the south side of the overhead bridge, when she saw the twister come off the sea and head straight for her house.
"I saw it coming, then heard this loud roar. I made a quick dash to the back of the house into the bathroom and just laid on the floor until it was over."
For a brief moment she thought it was smoke but then quickly realised the danger and ran.
"I've never been so frightened. The loud roaring it made was scary and it was coming right towards my lounge room ranchsliders," she said.
When it touched down it just bypassed the house, twirling between the house and a sleepout, but it uprooted a large macrocarpa tree, blew the dog's kennel away, snapped fence posts and left the yard strewn with firewood.
Mrs Adams said it was over quickly but was still long enough to "frighten the living daylights out of me".
Her neighbour across the road, Rebecca Sturgeon, was also at home when the tornado blew in.
She watched leaves blowing horizontally past the door, before the twister wrecked three glasshouses in the backyard. It blew the glass out of two glasshouses, and buckled another.
The fallen tree has blocked the pedestrian walkway leading under the overhead bridge and Mrs Adams said contractors had cleared away part of the tree where it had landed on the main road.
The Metservice yesterday warned there was a risk of a small tornado developing about coastal areas of Westland due to the unsettled weather conditions.
About 8am yesterday, two Hokitika men photographed a large waterspout out to sea near Serpentine.
The most damaging tornado to hit Greymouth was on March 10, 2005, destroying dozens of commercial buildings and houses.