At least three people are reported to be dead in the aftermath of a powerful tornado that roared through the New Zealand city of Auckland.
Reports also told of about 20 injuries.
Packing winds estimated to be 200 km/h, or 125 mph, the twister struck near 3 p.m., local time, cutting a path through the northern suburbs of the country's biggest city. A shopping mall was hit and partly unroofed, according to reports. An eyewitness also said that a nearby hardware store was heavily damaged.
North Island, New Zealand (Google Maps image.)
The swath of damage apparently stretched for about 5 km, or 3 miles, dying out as it neared the city center.
According to meteorologists at AccuWeather.com, factors known to be favorable for tornado formation were present over New Zealand's North Island at the time of the twister.
A vigorous storm center was located over the Tasman Sea, west of New Zealand, bringing a warm northerly wind flow to the country. High overhead, a northwesterly jet stream supported thunderstorm growth in the warm air ahead of the storm's cold front.
Weather officials say that New Zealand is struck by about 20 tornadoes each year. These are usually narrow and short-lived.
A deadly twister struck the city of Hamilton, North Island, in 1948, killing three people and injuring another 80.
An interesting aside is that the twister spun clockwise, normal for the Southern Hemisphere, but opposite that of virtually all Northern Hemisphere tornadoes.
The coldest air of the winter will plunge southward across much of the eastern United States and will feature single-digit and sub-zero temperatures in the Northeast during Valentine's Day weekend.
A storm will bring snow and ice that will lead to slippery travel along a 1,500-mile swath from northern Arkansas and Georgia to Maine early next week.
Heavy rain will raise the risk of flooding across more than a dozen states in the Southeast on Presidents Day to the East Coast on Tuesday.
Umbrellas will be needed on Valentine's Day as scattered showers overspread Germany.
As warming ocean waters continue to threaten coral reefs worldwide, researchers at the University of Hawaii have developed a plan that could reverse the rapid decline of these ecosystems.
Snow days are exciting for children, but harsh cold and treacherous wintry weather can make it difficult to get outdoors and play.
Mt. Baldy, CA (2001)
As much as 7 feet of snow fall in the past 48 hours.
Gulf of Mexico (1899)
Greatest Arctic outbreak in U.S. history. Ice flows formed in Gulf of Mexico. -16 deg. Minden, LA (record for state).
Gulf Coast (1899)
Very cold morning along Gulf Coast; New Orleans 6.8 deg.; Mobile -1 deg.; Pensacola 7 deg.; Tallahassee -2 deg (All time record for Florida. Brownsville 12 deg. (all time low).