Chaos on the Waterfront


On the night of Monday the twelfth of August there was a small tornado on the Auckland waterfront. It is not unusual for Auckland to have a few small tornadoes in the spring, although it is a little bit early, and further to the East than usual.

A transformer was hit by the storm, resulting in a dramatic explosion. Then two shipping containers were blown over on Jellico Wharf. One fell into the ocean, and another went across the wharf, landing right next to a car that had a person in it. The driver could not get out of the car and engineers had to move the container to release him or her.

The Great Barrier Island Car Ferry was among several boats that broke its mooring. The boat was undamaged, but no longer tied to the wharf. Police and Coastguard volunteers had to go and get the boat before it did damage as it drifted around the Captain Cook Wharf.

In the Westhaven Marina, a catamaran was overturned. A catamaran is a kind of yatch that has twin hulls. This kind of boat is very stable and can’t usually be knocked over. In this case, the wind got into the space that connects the two hulls and lifted it into the air. Many other boats were damaged, and at least two yatchs are known to have been sunk.

On the shore, people were injured by flying furniture and debris. The Cloud Event Centre suffered damage to its roof, and one family in St Heliers had to leave their house as the roof was completely destroyed in about five seconds of violent wind.



tornado: a violent, circular wind

transformer: a machine that distributes electricity to the city

wharf: a kind of carpark for boats

mooring: the rope and other equipment that ties a boat to the wharf

marina: a marina has many small wharfs

hull: the bottom of a boat

debris: broken things that are blown around by wind or an explosion, or washed away by a flood or tsunami.

shore: coast, beach

*If you feel unsure about the difference between a wharf and a marina, the easiest way to understand it is to do a google image search!

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