New Zealand tornado rips roof off of major shopping mall

Tornado damage (Herald Sun)

From the Herald Sun:

Fatalities after a tornado ripped through Auckland today, turning cars upside down and causing a shopping mall roof to collapse.

Police say the tornado ripped the roof off the Albany Megacentre shopping mall in North Shore City about 3pm (1pm AEST).  A St John Ambulance spokeswoman confirmed two people were killed, while Radio New Zealand reported that a third person had died. Police said the tornado ripped part of the roof off the Albany Megacentre shopping mall in the city’s north, flipping cars, uprooting trees and sending shoppers running for safety.  The tornado left a 5km trail of debris as it moved south, eventually dying out as it neared central Auckland. Witnesses said the tornado sounded like “a giant vacuum cleaner” when it tore across the Albany Megacentre. Witness Rob Crawford said the scene resembled a disaster movie.

Video also at the Herald Sun — >  Video

Tornadoes are not unheard of in NZ (brief history), but usually they are weak and short-lived.  However, a powerful hybrid-tropical/extratropical cyclone has been spinning in the Tasman Sea leading to the threat of severe thunderstorms.

47 thoughts on “New Zealand tornado rips roof off of major shopping mall

  1. Wait for it……the CAGWCEJ (causes everything juggernaut) is about to sally forth!

  2. One confirmed death. Up to 21 injured taken to hospital. Appears to be around T6 on the TORRO scale (F3 – Fujita)

  3. Here we go again!
    “Tornado in Auckland might have been caused by global warming.”
    Then the analysis. Then the debunking?

  4. Mike Bromley the Kurd says:
    May 2, 2011 at 11:52 pm
    You got there first, well done. You are of course absolutely right, now, where are thoses witches three, oil boil, toil & trouble!

  5. This tornado is unprecedented I tells ya. It’s worse than we thought because of global warming in a cooling world.

    The New Zealander – 20 November 1863
    A Tornado At Aukland

    New York Times – October 27, 1932
    Tornado Hurls Roofs and Trees Over Wide Area in New Zealand

    “The worst tornado in New Zealand history struck Frankton and Hamilton in 1948. Almost 150 houses were wrecked, three people were killed and dozens injured.”


    3 May 2011
    “So while it’s a tragic and devastating event for the area it’s passed over, in the broader scheme of things it’s a relatively small tornado.”

  6. Jim Salinger was name dropped on the news as our local tornado ‘expert’….. Jim Hansen is due here on a national tour soon…….. wait for the CAGW stuff to rear it’s ugly head…….

  7. Updated… 2 dead… very unusual to have such a violent tornado in NZ… major flooding in Hawkes Bay last week and now this… must be autumn….

  8. I reckon it’s that b…h Nina !! Same as the Qld floods.
    but NOT the same as the b…h that lies and spins.

  9. My heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the families of the caualties.
    While tornados are unusual in New Zealand, they are not unknown. For some reason, Albany seems to be sited in a mini ‘tornado alley’ as they have struck there before, but infrequently, thankfully, over the years.
    Now the crazy and unscientific attributions for tornados will flood the newspapers there, while most people who have been around a while know it’s just another example of capricous weather.

  10. o my god!!!!!!! sea water level is rising 3 times more than we actually expected

  11. In the case of the US tornado super-outbreak Willis showed that there was not much sign of a warming trend in the Carribean so it is probably only tendentiously linked to the global warming observed.
    However there is evidence that the Tasman sea has warmed over the last decades, and as tropical storms and tornados are modulated in intensity by the temperature difference between local SST and more distant cold air influxes a strong tornado like the Aukland event is not CAUSED by the sea surface warming, but it is made much more probable by a warmer ocean surface.

  12. John-X says:
    May 3, 2011 at 3:35 am
    Why is Gaia so angry at New Zealand?
    They let Kevin Trenberth escape ??

  13. I was 500 meters from it, never saw it but there was a lot of rain and debris lying around. Temperture was about normal today but it has been a quite wet autunm with loads of wind over the past 72 hours.
    Also another earthquake a the top of the South Island, around 5 on the Richter scale. Indeed, what has NZ done to deserve all of this………

  14. Their ETS is cleary working to reduce AGW driven extreme weather events. Yeah right!

  15. It’s a small country, and they’re still recovering from the Christchurch earthquake. I just hope their plight isn’t overshadowed by current events and they get the support they need. I think this is one place that even the CAGW crowd agrees with, that the victims of natural disaters need to be supported and helped back on their feet by us all. Nature is cruel and beautiful, as fantastic as it is dangerous and we should stand together to help those affected by the worst. We can disagree on the cause, but reaction to the effect should be unanimous. My sympathies go out to all those affected, your heartache is shared.

  16. This is unprecedented! A tornado has never damaged buildings before. So this is from ‘global warming’.
    They warned us and we didn’t listen.

  17. Pissed off Kiwi says:
    May 3, 2011 at 4:54 am
    what has NZ done to deserve all of this………
    It’s from being located on planet earth
    Michael Crichton, ‘Is this the end of the world? No, this is the world.’

  18. “Witnesses said the tornado sounded like ‘a giant vacuum cleaner’ when it tore across the Albany Megacentre.”
    They don’t have freight trains in New Zealand?

  19. “Jimbo says:
    May 3, 2011 at 6:04 am
    It’s worse than we thought!
    Guardian 3 May 2011
    “Auckland generally gets one or two tornadoes a year, according to New Zealand’s ministry of civil defence and emergency management”
    Just like Oregon Hmmm….

  20. Jimbo May 3, 2011 at 1:46 am This tornado is unprecedented I tells ya. It’s worse than we thought because of global warming in a cooling world.
    But of course! Life is just a bowl of cherries doncha know?

  21. I know this is a tad off topic, but seeing some of the humour & cheek being fielded here, I came across a small piece in a newspaper/magazine the other day, about the young actor, Matt Smith, who currently plays Dr Who. I have checked Wikipedia & they seem to confirm it. Smith apparently “after leaving school, studied Drama & Creative Writing at……………………………..the University of East Anglia, no less!!! Says it all me thinks, I suspect the Creative Writing course was held in the CRU.
    Sorry can’t link it yet but it is there!

  22. “Jimbo says:
    May 3, 2011 at 7:14 am”
    Well maybe in Wellington, but Auckland? No! No, it is simply too windy in Wellington for a tornador to ever form.

  23. “Pissed off Kiwi says:
    May 3, 2011 at 4:54 am”
    In terms of quakes, NZ straddles two tectonic plates? If you want wind, excluding The Beehive, go to Wellington.

  24. Leon Brozyna says:
    May 3, 2011 at 7:27 am
    … and back in Alabama, Dr. Spencer has a post up on the clean-up happening there. If that doesn’t wrench your gut and bring a tear to your eye, you’re either not human or not alive. See:
    The area where Dr. Spencer was helping out is about 10 miles NW of where we live in north Huntsville. In 1995, the nearby Anderson Hills subdivision was heavily damaged by an F4 tornado. This time, Anderson Hills was essentially obliterated by the F5 which crossed into central Alabama from Mississippi, headed NE and finally exited into Tennessee, a total track of over a hundred miles.
    Outbreaks of multiple, high energy long-track tornadoes occur something like once every couple of decades in this region and show no tendency of increased frequency due to SUVs, backyard barbies, riding mowers or other producers of evil gasses.
    I’d hate to think about the scenario in which we depended on windmills for our power in this area. Tennessee Valley Authority, our electricity provider lost several heavy 500 kva transmission lines and their substantial towers in this instance.

  25. In NE Oregon Union county we have the Elkhorn ridge wind farm.
    Guess where one of best areas for tornado formation in NE Oregon is?
    and the last one was-37 yeas ago. (witnessed by Moi)…
    No the Weather Service did not believe my report, nor the Portland
    Or. MSM -However, the FAA did…
    “Big whirlwind-what do they know over there…”
    KGW weather guy…

  26. OBVIOUSLY the buildings were under-designed, the wrong materials were used AND your building codes there in New Zealand need revision
    We here in ‘Old Europe’ have for centuries properly considered the wind and other elements and factored in a least a X10 (times ten) overkill factor for any conceivable weather event that should EVER occur … the ROW needs to match out standards as we are the galactic leaders in this area of over-design, over-kill and over-reach …

  27. The ironic thing is that New Zealand already has an ETS in place, which kind of debunks the stupid claims that the US failure to legislate was to blame for their tornadoes.

  28. John-X says: May 3, 2011 at 3:35 am
    Why is Gaia so angry at New Zealand?
    Because we are dilatory in implementing our Emissions Trading Scheme of course. What else?

  29. I lived in Auckland for a while, and had occasion to visit Albany a number of times, as my company had a branch there.
    The weather in Albany was always noticeably worse than elsewhere, for example, it would be fine in downtown Auckland, raining in Albany. As you approached Albany, the weather closed in. So it would appear that Albany is a magnet for bad weather.
    Albany is also a very recently settled area (last decade or so). There are usually reasons why places are not chosen by early settlers.
    All the best.

  30. “John-X says:
    May 3, 2011 at 3:35 am
    Why is Gaia so angry at New Zealand?”
    As a NZer. The greater Auckland region can often gets struck with smaller ‘mini-tornadoes’. There was one a few months back in South Auckland. It took out a storage facility. Now since repaired. When I was living in Hamilton in the 1990s luckily it was a Sunday a nobody was at the place I used to work as a mini tornado cut through my work place a did a nice lot of damage.
    As for what the Gaia question. Maybe something to do with for our relatively small population and size of our country compared to other countries. There’s a higher percentage of prominent NZers represented on the international lefty stage and Gaia-Eco greenie front! Plus there’s quite a few NZ academics on the UN IPCC front. let alone a former NZ Prime minister heading a UN dept.

  31. Anthony, saw a pdf from NOAA or NWS on the Alabama storm tracks today, listing the various intensities–but I lost a link. If you’re aware of it, it would make a good post. The biggest one, and EF5 has “unknown” listed for number of fatalities. They haven’t even been able to get into some of those towns. This is the one that took out offsite power at Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant. I’ve heard that some of the towns in its path are basically “gone”.

  32. Albany (Auckland, New Zealand) used to be a little village on the main highway north. In the last 20 years Auckland’s northward growth has meant the land between Albany and Auckland has been “developed” — ie: intensively built on and built up. The southern belt has been intensively built up for over 50 years.
    There are two west to east tornado belts: one across the north of Auckland from Albany to Torbay (if you can find them on a map), and the other is from Onehunga to Mt Wellington, where tornadoes touch down. Both belts are on land north of the two harbours Auckland is built between (and overflowing).
    They’re not an every year occurrence but neither are they rare. The northern ones seem to be a bit more vigorous than the southern ones. Both harbours (the Hauraki Gulf—along the northern line—and the Manukau—along the southern line) also see a waterspout or two at about the same rate—of course, these are tornadoes which didn’t touch down on land. Two or three per decade have lifted a roof or two from houses. This became more common as the development spread. This is the first one to hit a population centre, and the first to cause a fatality (official death toll: 1 … yep: one, with 14 injured, 2 badly).
    There is a (volcanic) range of hills running up the west coast between the two bands (the Waitakere Ranges). The bands are at each end of the ranges.
    We don’t hear about these whirlwinds unless there is a bit of damage—the Media then deems it worth reporting. This time, there was a fatality so the whole world heard about it.
    Cause: not CAGW but (mostly) CILU—Change In Land Use.

  33. izen at 3.55a.m.
    The warming of the Taman Sea since the second half of 2010 has been consistent with the strong La Nina that, although it maybe fading, still continues to drop sub-tropical bombs down our way as it has all summer. Some have spun out to the east whilst draping a wet and sometimes windy arm over us .
    This sub-tropical low is one of the few to ‘go west young man.’ Consequently it has become slow moving due to a blocking high off our east coast. These conditions are almost identical to those at the time of the four tornados that hit the Waikato region, about 100 miles south of Auckland, back in January 1975, when La Nina was very strong again by the way! These Tasman centred lows drag a lot of warm air in from the sub-tropics and have led to the West Coast South Island town of Hokitika having a record high for May (just think November you northern folk) of 26.7 C (80.0F).
    Last week we had our second lot of mountain snow near here, making this April the snowiest in the past 32 years. As someone said above, it is autumn in N.Z. Expect four seasons in one day! If things keep repeating weather wise, this year compared to the mid ’70’s, then we should be in for the coldest winter we’ve known since then.
    Watch this space!

  34. Looking at the damage of those tossed cars…this looks definitely like an EF3…and not the lesser 200 MPH cited in the new story.
    That is spectacular footage….another chapter of the power of nature. Condolences for those that died.
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  35. mike g says:
    May 3, 2011 at 5:11 pm
    Anthony, saw a pdf from NOAA or NWS on the Alabama storm tracks today, listing the various intensities–but I lost a link. If you’re aware of it, it would make a good post. The biggest one, and EF5 has “unknown” listed for number of fatalities. They haven’t even been able to get into some of those towns. This is the one that took out offsite power at Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant. I’ve heard that some of the towns in its path are basically “gone”.
    Yeah, Browns Ferry has three reactors, two of which shut down automatically when outside power for cooling disappeared and the third was shut down manually. This plant is the source for all of our Madison County power and about 450,000 customers were dark until yesterday. The plant has not yet resumed criticality and Tennessee Valley Authority has temporarily patched-in juice from somewhere else on their system.
    So far, 243 known fatalities in Alabama.

  36. It’s worth noting that the domestic building regs in London, due to the mild and usually gentle climate, don’t require any form of diagonal bracing of brick walls or roofs, or wire ties between concrete foundations/brick walls or walls/roofs. Consequently, when the occaisonal whirlwind hits a suburb, brick buildings can burst apart quite dramatically. A Kiwi builder working here told me that the buildings ‘don’t generally fall over ’cause there’s nothing holding’em up!’
    The building regs in NZ are quite strict and insist that everything is properly braced and tied together as high winds and earthquakes are common. The predominant form of domestic construction was introduced during the Colonial era and is based on the American timber ‘baloon frame’. It is interesting to note that many of the domestic houses burnt during the historic fire in San Fransisco were prefabricated in New Zealand in native Kauri and shipped to SF. Kauri is a very straight and knot-free timber that grew to impressive heights in the sub-tropical North of the North Island and is also impervious to marine worms and once highly prized for for ship-building.
    Unfortunately, it burns ferociously when dry.

  37. Further to my post of May 3rd, 8.29 p.m., another sub-tropical low is heading New Zealand’s way and due to arrive on, you guessed it, Black Friday! People may pay more attention to the possibilty of instabilities on the edge of the squall lines this time around.
    By the time it arrives I will be in the Tornado/Electrical Storm Capital of New Zealand, i.e. the West Coast of the South Island. I’ll be flying from Christchurch to Hokitika over the Southern Alps on Black Friday night!
    She’ll be right mate!

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