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.
There were storms along the flight path, AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Dave Samuhel said.
Strong winds and rough seas hampered evacuation efforts as hundreds remain stranded aboard the Norman Atlantic ferry in the Adriatic Sea.
While colder air will flow into the Northeast this week, the lack of snow will continue through the end of December and the start of 2015.
A storm and cold air forecast to develop at the end of 2014 and linger into the start of 2015 will deliver snow, rain and a frost or freeze to portions of California.
Rain, snow, and unseasonably cold conditions will impact much of the West through the upcoming week with the threat of slippery travel in parts of the Southwest by midweek.
A storm will continue to spread rain and disruptive snow farther to the east across eastern Europe Monday into Tuesday.
Missouri, Illinois (1830)
Very heavy snow (Kansas City 36", Peoria 30") began "Winter of the Deep Snow". 30" + on ground in MO/IL until mid February.
Union assault on Chickasaw Bluffs (Vicksburg) hindered by heavy rains and flooding of Yazoo River - Confederates repelled attackers.
St. Louis, MO (1919)
American Meteorological Society founded.