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Auckland’s tornados again

Written By: - Date published: 5:30 pm, December 6th, 2012 - 37 comments
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Auckland has been hit by tornado’s again (last time was in May 2011). Several people are dead.

NZ Herald reports Storm brings death and destruction

Three people have been killed and seven injured during a storm, including a tornado, that hit Auckland today, with another tornado hitting near Rotorua later this afternoon.

Police have confirmed the deaths and injuries. Two of those affected were believed to be involved in the construction of a school at Hobsonville Point and killed by a falling concrete slab, while another victim was reportedly hit by a tree.

It seems to me that the frequency of these extreme weather events is increasing.


37 comments on “Auckland’s tornados again”

  1. Bill 1

    It’s only shit weather. And since we’ll be getting plenty more along similar lines it won’t even seem that shit or unusual in retrospect.

    Point is, we really should be looking on all of this as an opportunity to adapt ( just as that – was he an ‘oil fella’? – claimed will be the case.) And failing that then, hey – we’ve got the technology to deal with this kind of stuff. Right?

    I mean, that’s what I keep hearing….techno-fixes, adaptation…everything going to be A-OK.

    Of course, if weather can well and truly ‘fix’ our technology instead of the other way around and if adaptation comes to mean something along the lines of dying…

    • lprent 1.1

      We’ve always had a few of these smallish tornados here.

      I can remember one coming up a valley at the parents farm and literally exploding a hut up in the late 70’s in the ridge between the upper Waiwera valley Puhio. But that was decades ago. Now we have them over a couple of years?

      It was also the last time the old man ever made one of his structures quite that weather proof. The reason we thought that it literally exploded wasn’t the wind so much as the difference in air pressure.

  2. karol 2

    Having lived out in West Auckland for over a decade, we do seem to have had more severe weather events in the last 2-3 years.

    I’m told there was flooding bubbled up from underground in the car park at the Henderson mall.

    Tornadoes seem to be  more frequent towards the edge of the west and in the Albany area.

  3. Anne 3

    Yes karol. When these storms move in from the Tasman, they hit the Waitakeres, the warm, saturated air rises in the lee of the ranges and bang… it’s all on.

    We had torrential rain on the Shore which continued without abatement for about 3 hours. That’s one hell of a lot of water, and guess who spent 120 bucks this morning having her house washed down. Everybody else in Auckland just got it done free of charge!

    • karol 3.1

      Yours probably still got a better wash, Anne.  I see there’s a report of a tornado in Rotorua now.

          • Jenny

            More on cyclone Bopha

            “We have suffered enough”

            Cyclone Bopha: The biggest Super Storm to ever strike Mindanao hits.

            “We have suffered enough,” Felicitas Cabusao said, clutching a Holy Rosary beside her crying 12-year-old daughter.

            Cabusao said her daughter survived Typhoon Washi, almost exactly a year ago, after she was washed out to sea when flash floods swept away entire coastal villages…. stuff.co.nz

            Mindanao rarely gets hit by typhoons, since the island is too close to the Equator, and the infrastructure of Mindanao is not prepared to handle heavy typhoon rains as well as the more typhoon-prone northern islands. Bopha is potentially a catastrophic storm for Mindanao. The typhoon is following a similar track to last year’s Tropical Storm Washi, which hit Mindanao on December 16, 2011 with 60 mph winds and torrential rains. Washi triggered devastating flooding that killed 1268 people. Washi was merely a tropical storm, and Bopha is likely to hit at Category 4 or 5 strength, making it the strongest typhoon ever recorded in Mindanao. Super Storm Bopha

            …..Typhoon Bopha, with wind gusts of up to 195 kph, made landfall at dawn, uprooting trees and tearing off roofs.

            About 40 people were killed or missing in flash floods and landslides near a mining area on Mindanao, ABS-CBN television reported, saying waters and soil had swept through an army post.

            A television reporter said she saw numerous bodies lined up near the army base. A military spokesman earlier said about 20 people, including six soldiers, were missing.

            Disaster official Liza Mazo, said more casualties were expected to be discovered as search and rescue teams fanned out.

            Media said dozens of people were injured by flying debris, falling trees and swept away by swollen rivers and flash floods.

            But the relatively low death toll was due in part to an early evacuation. More than 155,000 people were in shelters late on Tuesday. stuff.co.nz

            Bopha: the 2nd most southerly typhoon on record
            Bopha became a tropical depression unusually close to the Equator, at 3.6°N latitude. Tropical cyclones rarely form so close to the Equator, because they cannot leverage the Earth’s rotation to get themselves spinning. According to hurricane expert Dr. Paul Roundy of SUNY Albany, Bopha got its spin from a large-scale atmospheric wave called a mixed Rossby gravity wave. Because of the lack of atmospheric spin so close to the Equator, it took Bopha over four days to intensify into a typhoon, and it stayed a relatively small storm. Bopha became the 2nd most southerly typhoon ever recorded in the Western Pacific at 06 GMT on November 30, when the storm was at 3.8°N latitude. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center lists Typhoon Vamei of 2001 as the most southerly typhoon on record, at 1.5°N. However, other meteorological agencies do not credit Vamei with reaching typhoon strength, so this record is disputed. The previous most southerly typhoon was Typhoon Kate of 14 – 25 October 1970, which reached typhoon intensity at 4.3°N, 137.4°E.

            Bopha “Unusual”

            My question is this: Will we have to wait for a Superstorm to devastate Auckland or Wellington before our political leaders stop ignoring and start addressing climate change.

            • RedLogix

              No. It will take three or four.

            • Nick K

              It’s got nothing to do with climate change.

              • RedLogix

                Weather having nothing to do with climate Nick?

              • One Tāne Huna

                Nonsense, Nick. You can argue ’til the cows come home that tornadoes are nothing unusual. It’s a red herring:

                The atmosphere’s water vapor content has increased by about 0.4 kilograms per square meter per decade since 1988…

                You think that doesn’t affect the weather? Dreams are free.

            • jaymam

              Tornadoes have nothng to do with climate change. The number of tornadoes in NZ is not increasing.
              Read this press release from NIWA, who have records for 200 years. They are the people paid to investigate weather and climate. I believe NIWA has a lot of scientists – why doesn’t everybody listen to them and stop scaremongering.


              Thursday, 6 December 2012, 5:05 pm
              Press Release: NIWA

              Tornadoes, like the one that hit Auckland’s western suburbs today, are relatively rare events in New Zealand.

              On average there are around seven moderate to strong tornado events reported in New Zealand each year.

              “Auckland is hit by a tornado on average less than once per year, but there is considerable variability from year to year with some years getting none,” says Dr Turner.

              New Zealand tornadoes are neither as common nor as destructive as those that occur over the plains of the United States, but even small scale tornadoes, like today’s event can cause damage, injury and even deaths. The west coast of the South Island and the North Island coast from Taranaki to Northland have been particularly affected by tornadoes in the past.

              NIWA maintains a catalogue of major weather events in New Zealand over the last 200 years called the New Zealand Historic Weather Events Catalogue.

  4. JonL 4

    We lived on a farm in Oteha Valley Rd in Albany in the 50’s /early 60’s – can recall seeing a small twister come over the top of the hill one day during a storm…
    There seems to be a “tornado alley”..from around Henderson/Hobsonville, across Greenhithe and sweeping up to Albany…..
    It’s not new, but the frequency seems to be increasing and, with the increased population in these areas, which used to be virtually all open/farmland, I guess the opportunity for fatalities will also increase.Not nice, but……..there you go.

  5. frank_db 5

    I got caught up in some of the really heavy stuff in Glenfield, soaked to the bone as I tried to gather up the tools, trees down and roads closed, all very exciting.

  6. Jenny 6

    It seems to me that the frequency of these extreme weather events is increasing.


    In my opinion a parliamentary inquiry needs to launched to find out.

    Superstorm Sandy killed 85 in New York and got wall to wall coverage in the media.

    Then this week an unprecedented superstorm struck the Philippines leaving more than 300 dead and a similar number missing. (Though less media attention).

    If the Green Party with Labour can launch a parliamentary inquiry into the crisis in manufacturing. In the wake of all the recent extreme weather disasters and loss of life, could the Green Party call an all party inquiry into climate change?

    The Labour, Green, New Zealand First and Mana political parties together launched the Parliamentary Inquiry into Manufacturing, in response to what they said was a national crisis.OTD Sat, 17 Nov 2012

    Will the Green Party take action?

    Will the Green Party call an all party inquiry into Climate Change, similar to the one they called with Labour over manufacturing?

    • Jenny 6.1

      Superstorm Sandy that struck New York which killed 125, got massive wall to wall coverage in the media here and around the world.

      In comparison the Superstorm that struck the Philippines earlier this week, with 418 killed and hundreds missing, barely got a mention. Why?

      Are the death of Americans in a Superstorm more newsworthy than those of Filipinos?

      Are the lives of Fillpinos seen as, of less worth?

      Is there something else other than callous Western centric racism, that stops Superstorm Bopha getting the same sort of media treatment as Superstorm Sandy?

      Or would the same sort of media attention if given to the Philippines Superstorm raise some questions that society would rather not face.

      The cause of the Superstorm that hit New York is ambiguous, it could have been caused or exacerbated by climate change. It may not have been. The same could be said for the tornadoes that struck in West Auckland and Rotorua. Maybe they were caused, or made worse by climate change. Maybe not.

      But the causes of the Superstorm that struck Mindanao is far less ambiguous.

      Cyclonic storms like this are pretty unknown this close to equator. The reason? The twisting forces away from the poles caused by the Earth’s rotation, (known as the coriolis effect), are most weakest at the equator. So cyclonic storms are virtually unknown. However with more energy in the system it does not need as much initial impetus to create a hurricane, or Superstorm.

      The Philipines is a long drawn out country in the Western North Pacific, with it’s southern most major island Mindanao near the equater. A Philipino expat I talked to before writing this article told me that he is convinced that Superstorm Bopha was caused by climate change. In the North he said the people are used to hurricanes and there, their houses have very thick walls to resist high winds, in the South this is not the case at all, and because hurricanes rarely strike there people’s houses are not as strongly built.
      Because of this there was a potential for devastation and loss of life on a massive scale. But thanks to good weather forecasts and to the preparation of the government, 155,000 people were evacuated to shelters, before the storm struck.

      Let’s face up to this problem.

      I am of the opinion that the Greens need to give a lead, and call an all Party Inquiry into climate change, inviting all the best experts and commentators to give testimony. They can do it for the crisis in manufacturing. Why can’t they do it for the climate crisis. If even the Green Party won’t face up to the climate crisis. Then New Zealand could wind up less prepared than the Philippines. If a climate change induced Superstorm hit New Zealand we could be even less prepared than we were in Christchurch during the earthquake. In that case the blood of every needless death would be on the hands of the Climate Change Apologists of National and the Climate Change Ignorers of Labour and the Greens.

      We desperately need an all party inquiry into the crisis of climate change.

      All it takes is leadership. Will the Greens give it? Or will they continue to tail behind National and Labour and like them push this issue onto the back burner?

  7. higherstandard 7

    It’s sunny outside my house, seems to me the frequency of sunnyness outside my house is increasing.

    • Jenny 7.1

      Funny that, in Papakura the roads are partially flooded. (Though not badly enough to gain media attention)

      I also heard that a protest planned in Rotorua by Maori against a private boat ramp on Maori owned lake shore and lakebed had to be cancelled due to all the access roads being flooded.

  8. Jenny 8

    Hi Lynne, I find it very hard to notice small errors in putting in commands. And only notice them, after they are up on the site.

    An example; In my comment here at 6, I forgot to put in the forward slash.

    There used to be a small window where I could edit out such mistakes.

    Whatever happened to that edit function?

    Is there anyway to access that function again.

  9. karol 9

    This scientist says, “no” the tornadoes are not any more frequent than they used to be in Auckland.


  10. Nick K 10

    But he’s wrong. Anonymous commentators know it’s climate change. It’s settled. End of.

    Meanwhile…….La Nina is upon us. It could just be that. You know, that weird thing called “weather”.

    • One Tāne Huna 10.1

      This is inevitable: Hansen and Sato in Perception of climate change :

      Practical effects of the increasingly loaded climate dice are likely to occur via amplification of extremes of the water cycle. Higher temperatures exacerbate hot dry conditions, but higher temperatures also increase the amount of water vapor that the atmosphere can hold. Increased water vapor leads to heavier rainfall and floods as well as the potential for stronger storms driven by latent heat including thunderstorms, tornadoes and tropical storms….

      The greatest barrier to public recognition of human-made climate change is probably the natural variability of climate. How can a person discern long-term climate change, given the notorious variability of local weather and climate from day to day and year to year?

      It was suggested decades ago that by the early 21st century the informed public should be able to recognize that the frequency of unusually warm seasons had increased, because the “climate dice,” describing the probability of unusually warm or unusually cool seasons, would be sufficiently loaded (biased) as to be discernible to the public.

      Warmer air holds more moisture. This affects 100% of the weather we get.

    • karol 10.2

      Nick, are you referring to the article I linked to above?

      It’s interesting that the article headlinesand focuses on the view of Peter Griffin, who says that there are not more tornadoes in the Auckland area and there are not more extreme weather events worldwide.  Yet down at the bottom of the article, they give a small mention of another scientist who disagrees:

       However, some scientists, such as climate expert and kiwi expat Dr Kevin Trenberth, suggest global warming is exacerbating the effects of extreme weather events. He said this of Sandy

      “Global climate change has contributed to the higher sea surface and ocean temperatures, and a warmer and moister atmosphere, and its effects are in the range of 5 to 10%. Natural variability and weather has provided the perhaps optimal conditions of a hurricane running into extra-tropical conditions to make for a huge intense storm, enhanced by global warming influences”.

      Back in New Zealand last year, Dr Trenberth, who is based in Colorado, participated in a Science Media Centre briefing on extreme weather, which you can listen to here

      And that’s how the MSM often exercises balance, providing 2 different/opposing views, while giving one view higher status, & hence making them seem the more credible view.

      • Poission 10.2.1

        Extreme events are one of the most difficult areas of study, due to the inability to correctly model time ( the required length of observations ) and its recurrence or return path by frequency or probabilistic methods.

        Kantz 2005 defined Extreme Events as

        Extreme events (i) are rare, (ii) they occur irregularly, (iii) they exhibit
        an observable that takes on an extreme value, and (iv)they are inherent to the system under study, rather than being due to external shocks.

        This was also the definition used by Ghil 2011 and the comprehensive review on EE and the underlying problems.

        That there is perceptions in that the frequency of say EE to have increased is more psychological then statistical and is unhelpful at best.

        Ghil 2011 is an important paper,


      • kiwicommie 10.2.2

        Watch as the government uses this event as it did the Christchurch Earthquake, and as it does just as little for the people of Auckland as it did for the people of Christchurch. The MSM will claim that John Key is a hero and saved city x, when in reality he does very little if anything at all as John Key hates Keynesian economics with a vengeance; just like other Chicago Boy acolytes.

  11. Jenny 11

    The iceberg has struck and the Labour Party and the Green Party are keeping themselves busy by advocating for the rights of the stokers and engineers aboard NZS Titanic. So busy in fact that they have forgotten to do anything about the looming disaster about to entomb every section of shipboard society.

    When will the Green Party take action?

    Why won’t the Green Party call an all party inquiry into Climate Change similar to the one they called with Labour over manufacturing?

  12. Steve Wrathall 12

    Bodies not even cold but already the climate vultures are out, trying to use this tragedy to push their command-and-control economic fetishes.

    “It seems to me that the frequency of these extreme weather events is increasing.”

    “It seems to me..” is no substitute for scientific analisis which shows no such trend. All that is happening is we’re all getting older. Everything seems to happen more frequently: birthdays, elections, the Olympics…

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