Wild weather battered the Guyra area on Saturday afternoon as series of storms moved through creating havoc and causing widespread damage. The most significant damage was caused when a tornado touched down near Tenterden, destroying a house and shredding trees that lay in its path. What is believed to be a second tornado in the Ben Lomond area also caused considerable damage and was captured on camera by storm chasers who had been following the storms.
At Tenterden the tornado cut a path of 100 to 200 metres wide through the area. The tornado crossed the Tenterden Road before taking out a house and shed at “Alkoomie” and continuing on destroying trees and fences in its path.
Considerable tornado damage also occurred at Whites Road at Moredun, where timber was flattened on either side of the road making it impassable.
The Bureau of Meteorology had issued a severe thunderstorm warning for the Northern Tablelands earlier in the day, but residents were surprised by the extent of damage caused by the tornado which moved through at about half past three in the afternoon.
Local resident Jim Martin watched on as the tornado went past the front of his house and totally wiped out the house and sheds belonging to neighbour Fay Mayled. The tornado also ripped large trees out of the ground over a large area. Mrs Mayled was uninjured, having taken shelter with a pillow over her head as the house fell around her.
Storm chasers who were in the area at the time captured what is believed to be a second tornado in Ben Lomond area. Michael Bath and Jason Paterson from Northern Rivers Severe Weather Group had set up on the Grahams Valley Rd, initially intending to capture the spectacular lightning show over Ben Lomond.
Instead they managed to capture footage as a tornado developed. They told ABC radio that they doubt it was the one which destroyed the home at Tenterden.
While tornadoes are considered by many to be a weather phenomenon the Bureau of Meteorology says they are more common than we think. In fact there have been 21 recorded tornadoes in region since 1900.
Manager of weather services with the Bureau of Meteorology Andrew Treloar defined a tornado as a rapidly rotating column of air which generates under several conditions. These include thunderstorm conditions, combined with humidity, an unstable atmosphere and then a trigger mechanism such as a low pressure trough.
All these conditions were present around Ben Lomond, Glencoe and Guyra on Saturday where the tornadoes were reported. For Ben Lomond, this is the third reported tornado in the past 100 years.
The Bureau of Meteorology is sending assessors to the New England this week to take a look at the damage, and from there they will be able to categorise the strength of this latest event.
SES, RFS and Council teams were called to assist with the clean-up at Tenterden and clear Whites Rd. Trees were also cleared from Wards Mistake Road as a result of wind damage.
Guyra SES Controller David Godlonton has issued a reminder that with the storm season upon us the SES advises securing lose items around property, cleaning gutters and pruning trees around houses.
UPDATE: There may have been as many as four tornadoes in the local area over the weekend. The Bureau of Meteorology have identified three tornado tracks from Sat 23rd November:
- Tenterden Rd (est 160 km/h ave speed)
- Ben Lomond area (160 km/h ave speed)-
Wards Mistake (120 km/h est ave speed)
According to storm chasers Jason Paterson and Michael Bath in an update on their facebook page this morning, none of these were the tornado that they captured on film which was over the Maybole/Grahams Valley area.
If you have pictures of damage in your area please share.