Twist and shout

The Southland Times - - COMMENT&OPINION -

So no­body ended up in Oz. As far as we know.

But the tor­nado that tore through Clyde back­yards was vi­o­lent and dis­ori­ent­ing enough that a host of neigh­bours and read­ers fur­ther afield, would have been ei­ther silently or openly grate­ful that nei­ther they nor their loved ones were caught up in it.

Thank­fully, New Zealand doesn’t re­ally have a Tor­nado Al­ley of the scale and in­ten­sity en­dured by fre­quently as­sailed US states Kansas, Ok­la­homa and parts of Texas.

But Spring does bring its tur­bu­lences.

In Clyde’s case the tor­nado was a twist - see what we did, there? - on the more fa­mil­iar, but in this case cer­tainly for­mi­da­ble, winds that were pun­ish­ing the area at the time.

Most com­mu­ni­ties have times when they need to bat­ten down the hatches.

Ac­counts like th­ese will per­haps help mo­ti­vate some of us not to get too blase when strong wind warn­ings are is­sued.

Ditto the re­minders to drive to the con­di­tions dur­ing such times. That’s good generic ad­vice for when winds are par­tic­u­larly strong and gusty.

When they’ve ac­tu­ally be­come tor­na­does, pre­sum­ably driv­ing to those con­di­tions would en­tail driv­ing else­where. And with some alacrity. In Clyde’s case car­a­vans have been up­ended, a tram­po­line took flight, build­ings lifted off foun­da­tions and eaves started break­ing off houses as if they were gin­ger­bread.

The West Coast is of­ten-enough in the gun for tor­na­does.

A tor­nado ripped through Arahura, north of Hok­i­tika, on Septem­ber 6, hit­ting a ko¯hanga reo (too early in the day for it to be full of lit­tlies) and dam­ag­ing at least five houses.

And let the record show that Au­gust 25 was the 69th an­niver­sary of the Frank­ton tor­nado which killed three peo­ple and cut a swath through other parts of Hamil­ton as well.

Rea­son­ably enough, south­ern­ers tend to be far more sen­si­tised to the pos­si­bil­ity of earth­quakes and tsunamis, even in­dus­trial-strength storms, than twisters.

There’s no press­ing need for house­hold­ers, in Clyde or any­where else, to start build­ing tor­nado shel­ters in their back­yards.

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