The New Zealand Herald

Leave thousands in darkness

Storm sweeping up country leaves trail of destructio­n and plunging temperatur­es for the north

- Lane Nichols and Ryan Dunlop | World A17–19 | Opinion A20–21 | Classified A22–26 | Entertainm­ent A27–32

Up to 15,000 homes were without power last night as a fierce storm pummelled Auckland with destructiv­e gusts of up to 140km/h. Flights were halted at Auckland Airport and frightened residents reported buildings swaying and glass flexing in the high winds.

Some train and ferry services were also halted by the storm, likened by Niwa to a Category 2 cyclone.

A Vector spokesman said 20 separate outages across the Super City had cut power to up to 15,000 homes.

Emergency services across the North Island last night were stretched by both the storm and a huge fire at Carter Holt at Carter Holt Harvey’s Kopine Mill near Thames.

Twenty appliances were battling the fire, which residents said could be seen from as far as Ngatea.

In Auckland, Fire and Emergency was flooded with more than 170 calls, as dozens of trees toppled on to roads, power lines and homes.

A tree fell through the roof of a house in Stanley Point, and another through the roof of a home in Birkdale. Two toppled on to a house in Massey and a tree felled power lines on West Coast Rd in Waiatarua.

In New North Rd in Morningsid­e a tree fell on a car, trapping a woman. She was taken to hospital with moderate injuries.

There were other reports of trees down on cars and the roof was ripped from a large scaffoldin­g structure in Hobsonvill­e Point.

Jason Robinson said he had just got home in Hobsonvill­e from work when he heard a noise outside so he checked to see if his vehicle had been damaged by the wind.

When he inspected the car he heard a “loud groaning noise” and turned around to see a scaffoldin­g building about four storeys high slowly being blown over.

It was a base for a firm that constructe­d apartments and homes.

“It is a size of a small warehouse and it just came crashing down. “It’s like a twisted wreck.” There were multiple reports of other trees down, some crashing into homes, and trampoline­s flying into people’s properties.

MetService meteorolog­ist Ravi Kandula said winds were gusting up to 140km/h around the Manukau Heads area last night.

Auckland’s Airport had winds of 90km/h with gusts up to 120km/h.

Very heavy showers were also heading through the Canterbury Plains and Kaikoura, with hail expected in the east coast of the North Island and upper South Island.

“The main feature right now is the wind, but showers are coming and going,” Kandula said.

Herald readers described fierce gusts making windows flex and lights flicker. Gary Singh said his family of five had been in the dark with a torch after losing power in Papatoetoe. They were sitting on a bed listening to the wild weather outside.

“It’s quite scary.” He had tried ringing Vector but was told it was only taking emergency calls.

An Auckland Airport spokeswoma­n said the main runway had been closed due to debris and all flights had been diverted.

It is a size of a small warehouse and it just came crashing down. It’s like a twisted wreck. Jason Robinson of Hobsonvill­e Point

Firefighte­rs were too busy dealing with emergencie­s to give updates.

Last night speed restrictio­ns were in place on Auckland’s Harbour Bridge, ferries to and from Devonport, Birkenhead and Northcote were cancelled and all ferry journeys in the Cook Strait were off until 3.30am.

Earlier a tornado swept through National Park, ripping off roofs, felling trees and demolishin­g a house.

Resident James Parry was working at Tongariro Water when his phone rang. “My wife said the house was gone and I thought she was joking.

“I was shocked when I saw it, it still hasn’t really sunk in. Obviously with no roof on, it’s pissing down with rain, everything’s wet and soggy — the house will be bulldozed.”

Up to 12,000 people in the central North Island lost power and about 1300 houses were last night still without electricit­y across South Taranaki.

There were about 13,000 lightning strikes in Taranaki.

Highs in spots like Hamilton, Auckland, Tauranga, Whangarei and Kaitaia were expected to sit around 13C or 15C today — around 10 to 12 degrees lower than in recent weeks.

Temperatur­es in Napier and northern Hawke’s Bay were also expected to plunge to about 15C to 18C colder than a week ago. MetService said today would “absolutely” be the chilliest so far for the North Island. A logging truck rolled on SH50 near the Manga-o-Nuku bridge in Central Hawke’s Bay.

 ?? Picture / Peter Corban Picture / Hawke’s Bay Today ?? A fallen tree on Market Rd in Epsom blocked the road outside St Cuthbert’s College.
Picture / Peter Corban Picture / Hawke’s Bay Today A fallen tree on Market Rd in Epsom blocked the road outside St Cuthbert’s College.
 ?? Picture / James Parry ??
Picture / James Parry
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