Small tornado hits Ashburton golf course

CAROLINE KING
Last updated 10:29 04/01/2013
Daniel Tobin

Mayfield Golf course green keeper Alan Dixon talks about witnessing the twister that ripped through his golf course.

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People at a golf course near Ashburton were lucky to walk away uninjured when a small tornado struck.

The twister hit the Mayfield Golf Course about 6pm yesterday.

Grounds committee chairman Bill Allan said the twister "touched down" near greenkeeper Alan Dixon.

"He wouldn't have known what the hell was going on," Allan said.

Dixon and four players, who had just left the course after finishing their game, then watched as the destruction unfolded before them.

Allan said the golfers had a lucky escape when a tree "crashed down" right next to them in the car park.

Large trees were uprooted, branches ripped off and debris strewn across the course and a nearby paddock, Allan said.

"There's debris all over the place," he said.

But luckily the damage was only "superficial".

The clubrooms and outbuildings were unscathed, and no-one was injured.

"It could've been a hell of a lot worse. There's no structural damage fortunately. We were very fortunate it missed the buildings."

Allan said a working bee would be held today to clean up the mess.

"Luckily being a farming community we've got tractors and trailers - everyone's got the right gear."

He expected the course would be ready to reopen tomorrow.

MetService city weather forecaster John Crouch said a funnel cloud was a "cone-shaped cloud".

"It's like a cone that starts at the base of a cloud and extends to the ground. If it reaches the ground we call it a tornado," he said.

Crouch said funnel clouds were "fairly uncommon" in New Zealand, and particularly over Canterbury.

Two conditions were required to form funnel clouds, he said.

Firstly, an unstable atmosphere, and secondly winds which changed speed and direction.

Twitter user Stephen Burrows said he saw four funnel clouds and the tornado that day.

He captured some of the action on video.

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- The Press

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