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Tornado strikes West Coast town

Published: 2:22PM Monday October 22, 2012 Source: Fairfax

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A small tornado hit the northern West Coast town of Hector overnight, knocking over an old theatre, lifting roofs and cutting the electricity supply.

The old theatre and dancehall was demolished, roofing was lifted off several buildings, and at one place a back door imploded, Ngakawau Store owner Dennis Paxie said.

Another resident said the wind shook his house when it came through about 12.30am, but it was all over quickly.

The power went off after lightning struck a power pole near his house.

"It was quite spectacular. We had a nice big flash that lasted five or six seconds," the resident, who did not want to be named, said.

He knew of an unoccupied house which had lost part of its roof and another place where the back porch had been damaged and the side of a garage was ripped off.

A few tornadoes had come through the area, about 30km northeast of Westport, in the past few years.

Buller Electricity chief executive Erik Westergaard said some sort of mini tornado was thought to have come in off the sea.

It had taken down a number of power lines, including a feeder line out of a substation.

"We had crews out from 12.30am. Just on 5am we got all power restored in the region," Westergaard said.

The power had been out in the area between Hector and areas to the northeast up to Seddonville.