“I saw it coming across the river, the air went very electric and the sky went black. And then the wind started to whistle. This was like a juggernaut roaring through here,” witness Suzanne McFadden told New Zealand’s Newstalk ZB radio.1
A violent tornado-like suddenly came out of nowhere yesterday afternoon about about 3pm and wreaked havoc in Hobsonville-Whenuapai, an area of West Auckland. Wind storms of this magnitude are almost unheard of in New Zealand.
Prime Minister John Key described the affected area as “utter devastation”; like something out of “mid-west America.”2
“I can say I have never seen anything like this in New Zealand before,” he said. “It’s far more significant than a very bad storm where you have a few trees down.3
As of this writing, 150 homes have been seriously damaged, many beyond repair.
The storm was ferocious and unexpected, throwing people, animals, and cars up into the air like rag dolls. People were going about their daily business when it struck.
“There were over 200 men working onsite and another 150 at the primary school, including one guy working on the roof,” said Key.
Chris Heywood, the manager of a horse trekking business called The Farmhouse on Sunnex Rd., was in the driveway when the tornado hit.
“The sky just went really black. We started getting flashes of lightning and thunder then it got really bad,” he said.4
“It just felt like someone kicked me in the chest. I was off the ground and spinning in circles.” Heywood went on to say, describing how the storm tossed him into the air.
As he was spinning in the air he hit against something and realized it was the three horses that had been in the stable. Then he noticed his truck was spinning around doing 360s with no one in it.
He was so dizzy he started vomiting. ”I thought it was the end of the world,” he said.5