DRY DOCK: A boat and trailer were lifted onto the footpath on Pacific Parade at the height of the tornado that hit Lennox Head early yesterday morning.
DRY DOCK: A boat and trailer were lifted onto the footpath on Pacific Parade at the height of the tornado that hit Lennox Head early yesterday morning. Jay Cronan

Examining the anatomy of a tornado

THE raging tornado that struck Lennox Head started its life as a waterspout whipped up by a super cell thunderstorm, Bureau of Meteorology duty forecaster Jake Phillips said.

One of four types of thunderstorms, the super cell is the most dangerous because of the extreme weather it generates.

Super cells can produce large hail, damaging winds, deadly tornadoes, dangerous cloud-to-ground lightning, and heavy rain and flooding. “It’s very intense,” Mr Phillips said.

The trouble began on the Northern Rivers, and Lennox Head in particular, with a combination of reasonably warm ocean temperatures, cold air in the upper atm-osphere and wind convergence. The scene was then set for waterspouts to be formed.

It was what happened next that was unusual, especially for this time of year – a waterspout crossed from the sea to the land.

“Spring and summer are normally the times when something like this may occur, even though that too is unusual,” Mr Phillips said.

From there it tracked a devastating path through the coastal town. However, residents should be thankful only one waterspout developed into a freak twister.

Sharp-eyed locals reported sighting as many as four waterspouts off the coast early yesterday morning. Had they all made landfall, the entire town may have been levelled.

In 2007, another tornado tore through the village of Dunoon, causing millions of dollars worth of damage.



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