High winds cause may­hem


A small tor­nado ripped through a back­yard as gusts hit­ting 115kmh blew away roofs and win­dows in the Cen­tral Otago town of Clyde yes­ter­day.

Res­i­dent Colleen Kitto said her house felt like it was be­ing hit by an earth­quake as the twister hit.

‘‘The walls, win­dows and glass­ware rat­tled, then it spun into my yard lift­ing ev­ery­thing in sight. It ripped up our gar­den shed and dumped it on our diesel tank.

‘‘I screamed for my kids to get down, and then it was gone.’’

It was about 9am when strong winds picked up and flung the fam­ily’s tram­po­line at the house and smashed win­dows.

Clyde res­i­dent Jo Smail said she was hys­ter­i­cal when bits of the eaves of her house started to break off in the winds.

She was out­side try­ing to shift her gar­den fur­ni­ture as the wind roared through.

‘‘The chairs were blow­ing all over the place. Do you go and res­cue them or head in­side? I man­aged to throw most stuff into the shed.’’

A lamp on the pa­tio was smashed and then bits of the eaves started break­ing off the 8 to 9-year-old-house.

‘‘I was hys­ter­i­cal. I was on the phone to my hus­band. I could see wee bits break­ing off and I thought the whole cor­ner was go­ing to come off.

‘‘It kept chip­ping away and a big piece fell off.’’

She felt sick and was cry­ing, she said.

‘‘It was crazy but we’re OK here.’’

Clyde fire chief Richard David­son said the bri­gade had to deal with ‘‘ev­ery­thing from build­ings lift­ing off foun­da­tions, roofs lift­ing, fences down, trees down, car­a­vans up­turned, power lines down and fires. It’s re­ally been a bit busy’’.

He said the gusty north­west­erly winds were not un­usual for this time of year ’’but this is right up there with some of the worst we’ve ever had’’.

David­son said there had been 17 calls in the Clyde town­ship area by about 10.30am.

There had not been any in­juries he was aware of.

Crews from Alexan­dra and Cromwell were help­ing the Clyde bri­gade, a Fire and Emer­gency New Zealand spokesman said.

‘‘It’s been five to six houses in Clyde. It’s iso­lated to Clyde,’’ he said.

Strong winds were risk­ing fire crews’ safety also.

‘‘The crew will turn up and they will make a call [on the safety at each scene],’’ he said.

He told peo­ple to con­tact emer­gency ser­vices if they were af­fected.

‘‘Drive to con­di­tions and stay in­side if you can,’’ he said.

The Crown Range road be­tween Wanaka and Queen­stown was closed at both ends due to a slip at chain bay 5.

A Queen­stown Lakes District Coun­cil press re­lease said the slip was cov­er­ing one lane and more ma­te­rial might come down.

Trav­ellers were urged to use the al­ter­na­tive route on State High­way 6.

Mo­torists were warned to take care in the Macken­zie District af­ter a camper­van was blown off the road.

A NZ Trans­port Agency spokes­woman said the ve­hi­cle crashed on State High­way 8, be­tween Tekapo and Twizel. No-one was in­jured. Po­lice also urged driv­ers in Cen­tral Otago and South Can­ter­bury to take care in the ad­verse weather con­di­tions.

Those with high sided and light ve­hi­cles were ad­vised to de­lay travel if pos­si­ble.

The Metser­vice is­sued an up­dated se­vere weather warn­ing say­ing se­vere gale north to north­west­erly winds gust­ing 130kmh were ex­pected in ex­posed parts of the Can­ter­bury high coun­try, and gust­ing 120kmh for Marl­bor­ough and Welling­ton.

Strong wind gusts could dam­age trees, pow­er­lines and un­se­cured struc­tures, the agency said.

Metser­vice fore­caster Cameron Coutts said gusts of about 102kmh started at 3am at Alexan­dra air­port.


Is­abella Richard­son-poole, of Aus­tralia, and Matthew Baker, of Alexan­dra, strug­gle in the wind at Clyde. Be­hind them, waves on Lake Dun­stan are whipped up by the wind.

One of the car­a­vans top­pled by strong winds in Clyde. Fly­ing tram­po­lines were also a danger.

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