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Hail stones up to 3cm in diameter ripped across Mid-Canterbury last night, smashing windows and damaging crops.
A southerly storm dropped hail on Mayfield, near Ashburton, for about 50 minutes, and MetService received unconfirmed reports of a tornado.
Mayfield crop farmer Rab McDowell predicted at least 40 per cent of his carrot and maize crops were a "write-off", at a cost of more than $100,000.
He would know more on further inspection this morning.
Hail stones up to 30mm in diameter damaged about 100 of his 500 hectares. He grows maize for silage, and carrots.
"That looks like it suffered a significant amount of damage."
Each hectare of carrots would cost him about $10,000 if badly damaged, and he had 11ha. He was unsure about the cost of damage to his maize.
Mayfield Tavern assistant manager Phil Holland's tally of smashed windows was up to six when he spoke to The Press last night.
Hail stones "half the size of golf balls" dropped for about 50 minutes, he said, smashing windows throughout the tavern and covering the ground in white.
"It's the biggest hail stones I've seen in a good while. I've seen them in Australia, but never in New Zealand this size."
Crop farmer James Doyle felt lucky to not have spotted too much damage on any of his three farms, but he had heard of damage to many people's windows.
He also drove over a foot of pine needles that were stripped off the trees along about five kilometres of State Highway 72 south of Mayfield. "I haven't seen [hail] like that in a few years. Last time it was bad we got hit."
MetService forecaster Heath Gullery tracked thunderstorms across the country yesterday, but the one through the foothills and Canterbury plains was "quite active".
There was a lot of hail, heavy rain and unconfirmed reports of a tornado that started in Timaru and Oamaru and made its way to Mid-Canterbury by evening.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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