Tornadoes occur infrequently in Auckland but are much smaller than those that occur in the Midwest of the USA.
They typically have narrow and short tracks about 10m to 30m wide and between 1km and 5km long.
They are impossible to predict because of their small size, short lifespan and tendency to form offshore so people in a tornado's path are highly vulnerable to injury.
Most tornado injuries or deaths in Auckland are related to airborne debris or building collapse.
In Auckland, while tornado damage generally is localised, tornadoes have caused damage to:
- buildings and power lines
- fences and trees
- vehicles by overturning or wind or hail damage
- injuries to people but rarely death.
Some reported tornadoes in Auckland include:
3 May 2011
A tornado swept through parts of the North Shore with most damage around the Albany Mega Centre and Roseberry Avenue, Birkenhead. Significant damage was caused to the Albany Mega Centre, Westfield Albany shopping mall and residential housing resulting in one death and 14 people injured.
View footage of the tornado on YouTube.
4 July 2007
A tornado caused damage to at least 30 homes in southeast Auckland. Wind gusts removed tiles from houses in Botany Downs, Golflands and Somerville. Two people were taken to hospital with injuries.
25 June 2005
Two mini-tornadoes formed near Ardmore causing minor damage to some buildings.
22 December 2004
Winds associated with a small tornado that occurred in Penrose and Mt Wellington caused damage to six houses, and were strong enough to move a stationary truck.
25 October 2002
Tornado-like winds lifted roofing iron off a house and toppled fences in Blockhouse Bay.
31 October 2001
A tornado was observed in Auckland with recorded wind gusts of about 150km/h. At least 10 houses had damaged roofs and many trees were toppled.
A tornado swept through parts of Albany causing roofing iron to be lifted from homes and a small church, located in the southwest, was destroyed. A man died when debris from the tornado collided with him while driving a bulldozer but no other severe injuries were reported.
Visit the NIWA website.