Around midnight on September 17, Hawke’s Bay farmers Max and Lucy Tweedie found themselves trying to decide whether it was safe to stay inside their house as severe winds began blowing the windows in.
Max said they are used to some pretty hairy weather around this time of year on their Tutira property, but they had never seen anything like this.
“The wind was coming from all angles in the middle of the night, and it was a wee bit tornado-like,” he said.
“We were sitting in bed and bits of the house were flying off, there were four broken windows which the wind blew in. Part of the conservatory flung off and came into our room, and a big bit of guttering came off the house and broke the window.
“We always expect it here to an extent, we get pretty bad spring equinox winds, but this was amplified.”
The Tweedies run the Hallmark Angus stud. Their well-known bull sale shed was relatively unharmed, but they suffered extensive damage to several other buildings.
“We lost the best part of a four-bay implement shed. Some timber pines came through one shed, and that wiped out our walk-in freezer and took out most of that shed,” Max said.
“And then another one came down on a two-bay shed and broke through the roof and wall of that. It also pulled a whole lot of iron off of our covered cattle yards and wiped out about 10 pine trees.”
The Tweedies are no strangers to severe weather and the recovery that follows, having dealt with damage from Cyclone Gabrielle earlier in the year.
During the cyclone recovery, Hallmark organised a charity bull sale alongside Havelock North’s Koanui Herefords, raising funds for cyclone relief.
Max said that through it all he has learnt the importance of focusing on the controllables.
“We had to move as quickly as we could to get everything weatherproof because we had 140ml of rain following all that wind,” he said.
“We just had to make things happen, ’cause I guess we’ve had a fair bit of stuff out of our control lately, and you’ve just gotta control the things that you can.”
WeatherWatch’s Phil Duncan said there are a number of factors influencing the increase in severe weather across the motu, especially in these east coast regions.
Spring is traditionally a time of rough weather and “this year is the closest to normal we’ve seen in years, and on top of that, El Niño, and some of the marine heatwaves that are going on in our part of the world, are all adding to the extra energy that we’re seeing”.
“Then you have places like Hawke’s Bay, who have been caught up in these weird low-pressure zones through all of this that have put extra pressure in that area with wind.
“So between that, and the mountains and ranges near Tutira, that’s a reason why we’re seeing weather events like this.”