Double waterspouts and fresh snow have surprised Taranaki residents today as polar-laced air sweeps up the country.
Hawera Aero Club pilot Chris Schone happened to come across the spouts while he was flying 3000 feet in the air, west of Manaia.
“I’ve never seen them before, other than on the news so that was interesting.
“I was a comfortable distance away from them so I wasn’t too worried about that.”
Schone is based in Hawera and said he’s been flying around the area for 15 years, but it was the first time he had seen the funnel-shaped clouds.
“It certainly made for a good show.”
Nicola Peters saw the spouts forming in the clouds around 1pm off the coast between Opunake and Manaia.
“I’m thinking they were waterspouts, and I’ve personally never seen around this area and I’ve been here for four years.”
“[The weather is] is quite nice except for the little patch, it was sunny at the time I took the [pictures].”
“They’re coming out the clouds, by the time I got to the main road you could see how fast the water was moving in them.
“It’s quite powerful, it just looked like it was spinning.”
Taranaki local AJ Highnam captured several photos of beds of snow across the Stratford car park below Mt Taranaki at lunchtime today.
Highnam home schools her daughter so she was able to “drop everything” and head to the car park to experience the snow.
“We’ve had a couple of days this year where [the snow] comes right down to the car park.
“It snowed down right at the entrance of the mountain... the last time it snowed that far was 2021.
“It was freezing, there weren’t many people there.
“It was a pretty spontaneous trip.”
Awatuna resident Jody Thomas said she was standing at the end of her property – which happened to be hit by a tornado in May – about 12.50pm when she saw what appeared to be two waterspouts approaching from the coast.
By the time she’d made it inside, the two funnels had formed into one “significantly bigger” and she wasn’t sure if it made landfall before it dissipated.
”I watched it for several minutes, and when the wind picked up and the rain started, I made a hasty retreat back to the house,” she said.
”We’ve had plenty of rain here, and a lot of hail.
”Thomas acknowledged it wasn’t the sight wasn’t a welcome one, given a twister had torn off part of her home’s roof only a few months ago.
”It just makes you a little bit nervous.”
Waterspouts are similar to tornadoes but occur over water.
Associated with thunderstorm clouds and unstable conditions, these vortex columns of air form over the water and then sucked upwards.
Tornadoes were also relatively uncommon in New Zealand: an average seven to 10 moderate to strong events are reported here each year, and these usually tracked for just a couple of kilometres, while lasting only a few minutes.
Linda Taylor captured a picture of the water spout from the deck at her home in Manaia.
“It certainly was an incredible sight.”
MetService said the Taranaki region can expect fine spells and isolated showers today, with some heavy thunderstorms and hail possible, clearing by evening.
The strong southwesterlies were expected to be easing this afternoon.