Year’s first Buster hits school bus
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.