One person has died and another injured after a tornado ravaged an Auckland Ports container yard in south Auckland this morning.


Meteorologists say tornadoes are difficult to predict and New Zealand lacks the technology to do so.

A tornado ravaged Papatoetoe and Wiri yesterday morning, damaging 1,200 homes, 60 of which are uninhabitable. A worker at a container freight center in Wiri died in the high winds and two others were injured.

MetService had issued a thunderstorm warning for the area, but in response to questions about why it hadn’t forecast a tornado, it said it didn’t have a warning system like the United States.

Many tornadoes go unreported in New Zealand because they are in remote areas, but yesterday's one hit a suburb of Auckland.  Photo / Shamsher Randhawa
Many tornadoes go unreported in New Zealand because they are in remote areas, but yesterday’s one hit a suburb of Auckland. Photo / Shamsher Randhawa

Niwa meteorologist Richard Turner said predicting such events was difficult.

“Our digital weather forecasting technology improves, but then there is the real practical challenge of issuing warnings when tornadoes actually do occur.

“In New Zealand they are very short lived so by the time you take them out the event is often over.”

He said such technology could be developed in time.

“I think it’s possible that with better computers, faster processes, and the ability to solve more details in thunderstorms, we can better identify which ones could potentially be more capable of producing a tornado and what type of tornado. intensity they would be.

“It’s probably still a few years away, but that’s probably where the science is leading us.”

He said many tornado activity went unreported as it occurred in remote areas.

“So it’s really very difficult [when] you want to develop forecasting techniques from numerical weather forecasts or the like, you must have very good data to back up your learning.

“The hope would be that we could have artificial intelligence or machine learning algorithms that could identify the signatures in a numerical weather forecast that could identify the risk… but in order to do that, you need to have the data.”

Cleaning continues today

New Zealand fire and emergency teams spent the night helping some of the 1,200 homes affected by the wild weather.

Fire and emergency crew chief Paul Radden said crews had been touring the properties to check people were okay, look for leaks and help clear out debris.

“Three crews and a command unit assess the damage, the result of weather conditions that have occurred over the past 24 hours.”

Downed power lines and damaged roofs after yesterday's tornado.  Photo / Ben Wilson
Downed power lines and damaged roofs after yesterday’s tornado. Photo / Ben Wilson

Raddens said staff will continue to assess the situation this morning.

Meanwhile, MetService forecaster Andrew James said a low pressure system over the Tasman Sea sent more rain to Auckland overnight, but the skies are expected to clear today. .


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This notice was published: 2021-06-19 20:42:38


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