Twister 'as high as the eye could see'
By JENNY LING - The Dominion Post | Saturday, 16 February 2008


A spectacular waterspout amazed Kapiti Coast residents as it snaked off the sea, releasing heavy rain and hailstones as big as marbles.

The twister was seen to form off Kapiti Island about 7pm, before coming ashore between Paekakariki and Raumati South.

It dispersed over the land. Police said it caused no damage, though traffic on State Highway 1 slowed as motorists stopped to watch it.

Raumati South resident Nick Swan said he saw the waterspout at Queen Elizabeth Park and stopped his car to take pictures.

"I've seen waterspouts before and this was by far the widest and highest," he said. "It was as high as the eye could see. It was huge and I could see it snaking very slowly from side to side."

Kapiti Boating Club vice-commodore Peter Kortens saw a cloud slowly developing into "a long black spiral".

"Within a few minutes it touched down on the sea and sucked up seawater," he said. "As it hit the ground it released the water - we could see it fall. We've never seen an event from the boat club like that."

Mr Kortens said the twister moved across State Highway 1 and slowly disappeared.

MetService spokesman William Nepe said a complex trough of low pressure over New Zealand was a factor. Warm air from the tropics hitting cold air and sea-surface temperatures of about 20 degrees also contributed.

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