Rotorua's freak storm

By Katie Holland

1 comment

A sudden onslaught of wild weather sent large branches crashing on to a Rotorua shop.

Heavy rain and gusts of gale force hit the city yesterday afternoon, with the Steiners shop on Pukuatua St hit by two large branches at about 4.45pm.

A Steiners employee, who only wanted to be identified by her first name, Alison, said staff and customers in the interior design store got a huge fright when branches from a large tree fell on to the store's verandah.

"We wondered what on earth it was - the building shook," she said.

"Someone said 'what was that?'. Then we saw the green and said 'hang on'."

She said the weather seemed to have changed quite suddenly and became quite chilly after the earlier muggy weather.

"It was just, like, kaboom."

Alison said there appeared to be a bit of damage to the storefront but it could have been a lot worse.

"It was lucky there was no one on the footpath going past."

Castlecorp staff were quickly on the scene to clear away the debris.

It's not the first time the tree has hit Steiners - last year a branch also fell on the verandah, Alison said.

Meanwhile, a shopper called 111 and the Rotorua District Council just after 5pm with safety concerns about a large pole on the corner of Haupapa St and Tutanekai St.

Kevin Houghton was buying a Lotto ticket at Lucky Lottery Shop when a tourist came in to tell staff the pole, holding up one end of a Rotorua Night Market advertising banner stretching across Tutanekai St, appeared to have become partially loose from its foundation and was swaying alarmingly in the strong wind.

He ran outside and saw a crack measuring about 20cm in the ground around the pole, which he estimated to be about 6m high.

Castlecorp could not be reached for comment last night, but council staff had confirmed to Mr Houghton they would check the pole. The Metservice website showed south and southeasterly winds between 4pm and 6pm averaged about 40km/h, with gusts of up to 65km/h recorded - categorised as gale force.

Rotorua weatherman Brian Holden said the temperature also dropped considerably in the afternoon and by 6pm it was down to 10C, about half of what it was at the same time the day before.

"There might have been a few people that got caught out on their way home from work," he said.

The storm looks like it is blowing out as quickly as it blew in, with Metservice forecasting southerlies dying out today and a return to fine weather by tomorrow.


- Rotorua Daily Post

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