Fifty homes have been damaged after a tornado tore through Tasman on Easter Monday, lifting roofs, downing huge trees and snapping road signs like twigs.
Fire and Emergency New Zealand (Fenz) says there are no reports of serious injuries following the weather event that hit about 1.20pm today, but roofs have been partially or fully lifted on many properties, while others have been impacted by fallen trees or powerlines being down.
The worst-hit area has been in Upper Moutere.
“Residents are urged to call 111 if their safety is at risk, or their property has been damaged and they need help.”
Fenz said it is continuing to assist people and liaising with the local council and Nelson-Tasman Civil Defence.
Reports of damage and houses missing roofs are coming in from Upper Moutere, Māpua and Richmond.
Meanwhile, there are now warnings of “vigorous thunderstorms” bearing down on the Kāpiti Coast, with reports of 10mm-diameter hail pelting the area and flooding as wild weather rolls across the country.
And MetService has just lifted a severe thunderstorm warning for South Waikato, Matamata, Piako, the Western Bay of Plenty, Tauranga, Whakatāne, Kawerau and Rotorua.
In Tasman, Tracey Pickworth was travelling home on Monday afternoon from Richmond to her home in Motueka when she came upon the twister’s trail of carnage near the Stringer Rd turnoff, just south of Bronte.
Amid extremely heavy rain, she noticed the road had been reduced to one lane and traffic was building ahead of a “huge gap” through the forest on the hillside, where mature trees were broken like toothpicks by the tornado.
There was a clear border, with trees untouched past the edge of the trail of destruction, she said.
”As if something had been mown right through it,” Pickworth said.
”There were big trees completely snapped off. They’d broken like twigs.
“Either side of it, the trees were fine.”
Road signs were also snapped in half, she said.
Her house was undamaged, as the tornado appears not to have touched Motueka.
Its path appears to have been from Upper Moutere southeast towards Richmond, crossing State Highway 60 between Bronte and Redwood Valley.
A man who found himself in the path of the tornado said the twister was “unreal” and akin to something out of a movie.
Jamin Brown, who lives in Appleby just northeast of Richmond and owns juice company Mad Melon, said he realised the twister was more than just strong winds when he looked outside and saw two swings standing on their ends amid the howling winds.
”It was pretty surreal,” Brown said.
”It looked like a movie.”
After the tornado blew through, an eerie, windless silence followed, Brown said. In its wake it had left power poles uprooted, lying at 45-degree angles.
The family lost power after the tornado struck, and it only just came back shortly before 3pm, Brown said.
Residents around the epicentre of where the tornado made landfall at Upper Moutere were still reporting outages around 4pm.
The lines company Network Tasman’s website remained down all afternoon.
Nelson police say there are no reports of injuries but urged people to stay safe indoors.
“If you are in immediate danger, please call 111.”
A tree has fallen onto a car with a person inside in Māpua, but the person was able to get out of the car without requiring assistance and reported only minor abrasions.
There has also been a report of a tree falling on to power lines, as well as a tree falling across a driveway.
A post on the Motueka Buy Sell FB page says: ”If traveling from Motueka to Richmond. There’s been a tornado. Huge delays in traffic. Avoid main highway.”
Early reports suggest buildings have been damaged and trees are down in Upper Moutere, between Richmond and Motueka in Tasman.
Residents living in and around the area where the tornado struck near Richmond and Motueka are reporting they have lost power. The website for lines company Network Tasman appears to have gone down.
Nelson Mayor Nick Smith said the tornado had ripped roofs off houses and trees from the ground.
State Highway 60 is closed after a tree fell on to a vehicle, Smith said.
Power is also out to areas of Tasman.
Civil Defence has warned of a possible tornado in Nelson this afternoon.
Shortly after 2pm, Nelson Tasman Civil Defence sent an alert to residents of a severe thunderstorm watch until 3.30pm on Easter Monday in Marlborough and Nelson.
The post warned of the possibility of a small tornado, large hail stones and a series of thunderstorms moving east across the region.
”A line of active thunderstorms is moving eastwards across Tasman/Nelson and northern/western Marlborough this afternoon (Easter Monday),” Civil Defence said.
”Between 12.30pm and 3.30pm, it is possible these thunderstorms may be severe with localised downpours of 20-45mm/h, large hail, and possibly a small tornado.”
Rainfall downpours that intense could cause flash flooding, especially about low-lying areas and rivers, and could lead to slips, Nelson Tasman Civil Defence said.
”Large hail can cause significant damage to crops, orchards, vines, glasshouses and vehicles.
“Driving conditions will also be hazardous, with surface flooding and poor visibility in heavy rain.”
The thunderstorms are set to ease by Monday afternoon, but rain could continue into Tuesday.
It comes less than 24 hours after a tornado struck parts of East Auckland, damaging homes, destroying fences and trees and littering streets with broken roofing tiles.
The twister hit just after 9pm last night.
Authorities received more than 50 calls about damage from last night’s tornado and opened an Civil Defence Centre for anyone displaced.
One Dannemora man said the twister “ripped one of our wooden fences out of the ground, ripped downpipes and guttering off our house and picked up a barbecue and threw it across our section”.
Most of the calls for help were due to roofs lifting or being damaged, trees blown on to houses and trees falling on powerlines, Fenz said shortly before 11pm.
Fenz assistant area commander Dave McKeown said no injuries had been reported to authorities.
Meanwhile, MetService says “vigorous thunderstorms” are currently moving onto the Kāpiti Coast, with reports of 10mm-diameter hail pelting the area.
There are also reports of flooding at a local mall.
Fenz shift manager Shannon Lucas said they had received one weather-related call, relating to flooding in Paraparaumu. The call came in at 3pm, but none had come through since.
A local resident said the thunderstorms had now hit.
“Gone from calm and still to wild outside in about 30 seconds.”
The MetService says three lines of thunderstorms are moving east across New Zealand.
The first is crossing Nelson, where a severe thunderstorm watch is in place until 3.30pm, moving towards Marlborough.
Another line of thunderstorms sits between the two main Islands, moving towards the Kāpiti Coast.
And a third is sitting just east of Taranaki, moving very slowly.