Tornado Rips New Zealand Towns Leeston and Amberley as Storm Brings Large Hail (VIDEO)

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By Reissa Su | February 24, 2014 4:53 PM EST


(Source: Youtube/StephenBurrows)

A tornado has ripped its way through North Canterbury in New Zealand as rough weather and lightning caused extensive damage. The Civil Defence has arrived at the scene to inspect the damaged properties. According to fire service shift manager Andrew Norris, a group of homes in Amberley have been heavily damaged. The town is 50km north of Christchurch.

Based on fire service reports, strong winds from the tornado had lifted the tiles off roofs of homes near the Burnham Military Camp. Southern Fire Communications Shift Manager Karl Patterson said he received reports of one house losing an entire roof.

The tornado, barreling its way through South Island, also knocked down trees and caused power poles to catch fire. Mr Patterson said the fire service put out fires in Halsquell Quarry which were caused by lightning.

Despite the damages to some homes and power lines, no casualties or injuries were reported.

The clean-up continues in tornado-damaged areas, although 30 homes reported having no electricity by the afternoon of Feb 24. A resident from Amberley, Donna Graham, told Radio New Zealand that she and her husband, Geoff, saw the tornado form from hanging black clouds and realised the twister was moving straight to her house. She and her husband began running away from the house. They could hear the noises made by the tornado as it moved. The couple came out when they noticed they could not hear the tornado anymore.

Civil Defence inspector Kerry Walsh said the damage caused by the tornado was worse than he expected. He said the clean-up was doing well. South Island's lines company Mainpower remarked that some of the power poles had to be replaced before electricity will be restored to homes.

Aside from the tornado in Amberley, a smaller tornado was spotted in Leeston and was captured on video by "stormchaser" Stephen Burrows. Mr Burrows said the smaller tornado was approximately 100 metres wide but looked weaker in comparison to the one in Amberley.

The tornadoes were caused by a severe thunderstorm in parts of Canterbury. The MetService has warned residents in the area to prepare for a storm with torrential rain and large hail. According to weather authorities, the storm had formed near the coast of Timaru and made its way to Christchurch. The storm was classified as a "supercell" because it caused large hailstones and small tornadoes.

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