Year’s first Buster hits school bus

Matamata Chronicle - - News -

Vi­o­lent winds blew over a school bus trav­el­ling be­neath the Kaimai Range on Fri­day, caus­ing mi­nor in­juries to one of two chil­dren on board and the driver.

The road was sub­se­quently closed be­cause of the ex­treme and rare weather phe­nom­e­non known lo­cally as the Kaimai Buster.

Mata­mata-Pi­ako Dis­trict Coun­cil closed Te Aroha-Gor­don and Old Te Aroha roads to heavy traf­fic and mo­tor­cy­cles be­cause of the se­vere weather con­di­tions.

Other ve­hi­cles were ad­vised to avoid the route where pos­si­ble and take ex­treme care.

The aero­dy­namic ef­fect of the Kaimai Range turns strong east­er­lies into gales a per­son would strug­gle to re­main up­right in, Mata­mata po­lice Sergeant Gra­ham McGurk said.

The 52-seater bus was shunted over and off the road while driv­ing to school along Old Te Aroha Rd, he said.

‘‘While one of the chil­dren and the bus driver were be­ing treated, the am­bu­lance nearly got blown over, just stand­ing there. The wheels started com­ing off the ground so we had to move it.’’ It was the first buster of the year. McGurk said the winds could cause huge amounts of dam­age, knock­ing over trees and top­pling barns.

‘‘They are unique to our area – it’s amaz­ing. I un­der­stand there was an­other ve­hi­cle crash where a car got blown off the road shortly af­ter­wards in the Te Aroha area,’’ he said.

‘‘A huge low pres­sure runs un­der the range dur­ing strong east­erly winds and it just rushes down.

‘‘You get about a kilo­me­tre-wide area that re­ceives very strong winds but in Mata­mata there wasn’t a breath of wind.’’

The Kaimai Buster is a freak weather event hard to pre­dict when or where it will strike, McGurk said.

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