12 May 2009

Wild weather batters upper North Island

6:59 am on 12 May 2009

Wild weather battered the upper North Island on Monday, with hail storms causing treacherous road conditions and mini-tornadoes damaging properties.

Emergency services were kept busy as hail, heavy rain and strong winds swept up the country.

The severe weather was easing on Monday night, bringing a respite for thousands of people caught up in the wintry blast. There have been no reports of anyone being injured.

A Whakatane police spokesperson says hail and ice caused dangerous conditions on roads earlier in the day.

About 2000 people were evacuated from a flooded Bayfair Shopping Centre in Mt Maunganui after a severe hail storm caused parts of the roof to collapse on Monday.

Small tornadoes reported

Mini-tornadoes damaged homes and properties in the upper North Island.

Residents in Warkworth, north of Auckland, called emergency services after a mini-tornado hit the town on Monday afternoon.

Sam Malcomson was at his Westpark Glen home when the wind struck just after 1pm for about 20 seconds, causing tiles to be ripped off roofs.

Other small tornadoes were reported in Mt Maunganui and Whakatane. No damage was reported to homes, but lightning strikes felled trees in the area.