'Mini tornado' hits Waikato amid slips, flooding

BELINDA FEEK
Last updated 14:32 26/04/2011

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LATEST: A street in Te Awamutu, 29km south of Hamilton has been battered by what residents have described as a "mini tornado" about an hour ago as strong winds batter the Waikato.

About 20 trees up to six metres high have come down on the southern side of Sinclair Terrace causing minor damage to houses and fences.

There are no indications that anyone is hurt.

Bemused residents are walking around wondering what has happened.

Sinclair Terrace residents Tom and Athalie Nadin had just popped back home after getting groceries to find a tree had been uprooted and had crashed through their front fence.

"We're very lucky, we expected it to hit the house," Mr Nadin said.

Meanwhile, a Waipa Network spokesman said power was out to many areas in Cambridge and Te Awamutu with strong winds knocking down trees and taking our power lines.

He said they'd received hundreds of calls from customers and were working hard to restore power as soon as possible. He could not give an exact number of the households and businesses currently affected.

One of the main feeders - which provides power to around a 1000 Cambridge houses - was damaged by a falling tree.

"Our guys are very busy," he said.

He said the network's arbourists were also flat-out removing trees that had fallen, blocking roads.

DELUGE BRINGS FLOODING, SLIPS

An overnight deluge brought flooding and slips to much of the top half of the North Island, particularly Waikato and Bay of Plenty.

Several roads were closed or down to one lane this morning, with police advising motorists to delay travel if possible or to take extreme care if they do drive.

Firefighters and power authorities were called to a large tree which fell, blocking both lanes of Brookfield St near MacFarlane St in Hamilton East just after 7am today.

Two houses at the intersection of River Rd and King St, in Ngaruawahia, also experienced flooding.

Police were responding to countless reports of slips, floods and pot holes on the road in the Bay of Plenty including two in Waihi Beach early today.

They urged Coromandel Peninsula residents to take care after reports of surface flooding on State Highway 25 between Wade Road and the 309 Rd at Whitianga.

The road was passable this morning but  police urged people to use it only for essential travel.

Contractors were this morning clearing slips in Waingaro Rd and Hakarimata Rd, west of Ngaruawahia. There was also no access to Matira Rd in Te Akau with a slip completely covering the road.

Surface water has also been a general problem in low lying areas of Huntly and Ngaruawahia.

Three pools at Waingaro Hot Springs were also flooded and there were  concerns at water levels in the car park.

Several trees had also fallen on roads around Cambridge, including the latest blocking part of SH1 near the intersection of  Kelly Rd.

Just before 10.30am in Taupo, a large tree fell and power lines fell with police expecting it to close Broadlands Rd for about 12 hours.

Hamilton has born the brunt of the rain dump across the region after receiving more than 60mm in the past 24 hours.

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MetService duty forecaster Geoff Sanders said 11mm of that rain occurred between 5am and 6am today.

But he expected rain to ease to showers by this afternoon and die off by Thursday.

However, the front's gusty south easterlies will increase throughout the week, having peaked at 60kmh so far in Hamilton.

"Wednesday it's going to be dry but it's going to be the strong wind that's still going to be there. Thursday and Friday will be cloudy with gusty southeasterlies but they should ease by the weekend."

A large number of trees and downed power lines were also blocking parts of one lane of SH5 between Taupo and Napier about 7.30am.

The slow-moving front, heading down from Northland, Auckland through to Bay of Plenty, has been centred in Tauranga and Mt Maunganui.

Gales are expected in many places, with severe gale gusts of 120kmh or 130kmh likely in places from eastern Bay of Plenty over the central high country to Taranaki, Wanganui and Manawatu and Kapiti Coast.

Winds of this strength could damage trees and make driving hazardous, the MetService said.

 

BLOCKED ROADS:

- Matamata, State Highway 27, flooding.

- Glen Afton, Rotowaro Rd, flooding.

- Kinleith on State Highway 30, 3 Km West of the SH1 intersection, fallen trees.

- Cambridge, State Highway 1, at the intersection of Kelly Road, fallen tree drive with caution

- Taupo, Broadlands Rd, Rotokawa. Blocked by fallen trees, fallen power cables

- Whitianga, State Highway 25 Whitianga, between Wade Road and The 309 Road, caution due to flooding.

- Waikato Times

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