The series of tornadoes which struck west Auckland this afternoon is the second fatal twister incident to hit Auckland in the past two years.

Three people have been confirmed killed today after severe weather and an apparent tornado struck Hobsonville, tearing down trees and ripping panels from the motorway.

It comes after the devastating twister of May 3 last year which tore through a shopping centre in the north Auckland suburb of Albany.

Father of two Benedict Dacayan, 37, died after the tornado ripped through his work site, picking up the portable office he was working in and hurling it into a wall.


Another twister touched down in west Auckland on September last year, damaging at least 13 properties.

Earlier this year, a waterspout estimated at least half a kilometre tall and 50m wide travelled up the Waitemata Harbour and past the Auckland central business district.

About 20 to 30 tornadoes touch down in New Zealand each year but fatalities are rare.

According to MetService, tornadoes in New Zealand differ from those in the midwest of the US, which generally take place in the warm part of the year. Tornado occurrence in New Zealand is largely a 'cold season' phenomenon.

New Zealand's worst tornado was in August 1948, when three people were killed, 80 injured and about 150 buildings destroyed in Hamilton. Damage was estimated at more than $70 million (modern equivalent).

Albany was also struck by a tornado back in May 1991, when a man was killed after being struck by flying debris.

Two people were killed in Taranaki in August 2004 when a tornado demolished a farmhouse.