December 11, 2023

Tornado hits Waihi Beach destroying roofs and cutting power to hundreds

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A Waihi Beach bach owner says the formation of the tornado which ripped roofs off houses and cut power to nearly 2500 properties was one of the most amazing things he’s ever seen.

The storm tore through the Bay of Plenty beachside settlement about 9am on Saturday.

Mark Wright says he stood on the dunes as two water spouts merged into a twister and headed into shore.

“I could just see debris and there was just all sorts going on in the sky, and there was just almost like an explosion of debris up in the air. There was just corrugated iron and objects and birds.”

Wright said he spoke to a resident who escaped uninjured from his home after his roof was torn off and was trying to contact a builder.

“And we were just standing around, quite bewildered by what we had just seen, and the second water spout I had seen forming out at sea hit land as well, and we watched it go across the road. We just could not believe what we were seeing.”

Western Bay of Plenty mayor James Denyer said he was thankful no one was too badly injured.

He said he rushed to the area soon after the tornado went through and had been speaking to locals near Seaforth Road where the first part of the storm hit.

“I’ve seen roofs lifted off, tossed across the road – they’re gone through power lines, which is why they’re down. There’s a little bit of shock, but they’re coping and getting through.”

A second tornado landed south of Seaforth Road, felling trees and damaging cars in the area.

Power supply has been disconnected for the safety of crews repairing the damage and a second outage has cut off properties in nearby Athenree.

PowerCo hopes to address both faults by early evening.

If you witnessed the tornado or its aftermath, and would like to share pictures or video with us, please email it to: [email protected]

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