ZB ZB
Live now
Start time
Playing for
End time
Listen live
Listen to NAME OF STATION
Up next
Listen live on
ZB

Torrential rain, possible tornado lash Thames and Coromandel

Author
Maryana Garcia and Al Williams,
Publish Date
Wed, 15 May 2024, 11:26am
A heavy rain warning has been issued for Coromandel, Bay of Plenty, and Tasman.
A heavy rain warning has been issued for Coromandel, Bay of Plenty, and Tasman.

Torrential rain, possible tornado lash Thames and Coromandel

Author
Maryana Garcia and Al Williams,
Publish Date
Wed, 15 May 2024, 11:26am

MetService has lifted the severe thunderstorm warning in place over the Bay of Plenty as thunderstorms with possible strong wind gusts and small tornadoes continue to affect the eastern parts of the region. 

Surface flooding was reported across the Hauraki Plains and western areas of the Coromandel Peninsula after thunderstorms swept through the region this morning. 

A severe thunderstorm watch remains in place over the Bay of Plenty radar area. 

MetService said a low-pressure system west of the North Island was expected to move eastwards across New Zealand today, bringing rain to central and northern regions. 

The heaviest rain was expected over the Coromandel Peninsula, Bay of Plenty, and the Tasman District. A warning for Bay of Plenty has since been lifted. 

However, isolated thunderstorms with possible strong wind gusts and/or small tornadoes continue to affect eastern Bay of Plenty and a severe thunderstorm watch remains in place over the region until 2pm. 

At 9.52am, MetService weather radar detected severe thunderstorms near Tauranga, Te Puke, Mount Maunganui and offshore, and Pāpāmoa. 

These severe thunderstorms are moving towards the southeast, and are expected to lie near Te Puke, Pāpāmoa and Paengaroa at 10.22am and near Te Puke, Pukehina, Pongakawa Valley and Paengaroa at 10.52am. 

“These thunderstorms are expected to be accompanied by torrential rain and damaging wind gusts,” the MetService said. 

Flooding was possible, as well as roofing and tree damage and hazardous driving conditions. 

A severe thunderstorm watch is also in place for Bay of Plenty, Rotorua, and Gisborne. 

Niwa recorded over 600 lightning strikes just offshore the Coromandel Peninsula and Bay of Plenty between 8.30am and 9.30am. 

Thames tornado 

Concrete benches moved metres away, seagulls were tossed in the wind, windows rattled and planks of wood flew up into the sky as a possible tornado swept through Thames about 9am.

“My windows rattling like they were at a rave in the 90s,” a Thames resident commented on Facebook. 

A fellow resident said she had seen seagulls, pigeons and sparrows “thrown about” in the wind. 

“I watched the clouds come towards the ground [and] everything swirling so fast,” another resident reported. 

“It happened so quick. Freaked me the hell out.” 

A Hauraki-Coromandel Post reporter at the scene said sirens were sounding in Thames and the fire brigade had already responded to two call-outs before 10am. 

Thames Volunteer Fire Brigade member Michael McWatt said a roof had been blown off changing rooms in Danby Field. 

McWatt said as he was leaving for work the rain was like a “white sheet” and there was zero visibility. 

"My windows rattling like they were at a rave in the 90s."

-A Thames resident on Facebook

Plumber Jono Fry said his power went off at 8am. The downpour was “shocking” and “really heavy”. 

“The wind was just out there. I’ve heard the siren go off 1000 times.” 

Fry said as far as he knew his family and friends were all right and it was business as usual. 

Thames resident and plumber Jono Fry said his power went off at 8am. Photo / Al WilliamsThames resident and plumber Jono Fry said his power went off at 8am. Photo / Al Williams 

A Thames-Coromandel District Council spokeswoman said the tornado had not been confirmed. 

“As far as we are able to ascertain, there was high winds, rain and sudden squalls. 

“We are warning residents to take great care on the roads and out and about due to the heavy rain warnings and risk of thunderstorms and low risk of a tornado.” 

MetService meteorologist Ngaire Wotherspoon said it had not yet confirmed a tornado took place in Thames, but “the ingredients” for such an event were present. 

“We are in quite a converter situation right now,” Wotherspoon told the Waikato Herald. 

“There’s a lot of uplift in the atmosphere. There are thunderstorm watches out and there’s a significant line of thunderstorms that have gone through Thames, over the Coromandel Peninsula and Whitianga.” 

She said it was “certainly possible” a tornado had occurred. 

 

 

 

Power outages 

More than 500 Thames properties are now without power. 

PowerCo’s online outage map reported 572 properties were affected by an unplanned outage about 8am. 

A site investigation is under way with field crews attending. 

Power is expected to be back in the town by noon. 

Meanwhile, hundreds of customers lost power in Te Puke this morning and field crews are investigating the cause. 

Powerco said 695 customers lost power about 8.45am with power restored to 464 customers just after 9am. 

“Power is currently estimated to be restored to the remaining 231 customers by 1pm,” a spokeswoman said. 

Maryana Garcia is a Hamilton-based multimedia reporter covering breaking news in Waikato. She previously wrote for the Rotorua Daily Post and Bay of Plenty Times. 

Take your Radio, Podcasts and Music with you