Farmer says 'freakish' tornado begun on his farm, could have seriously hurt people

A farmer who says the "freakish" tornado which hit parts of Canterbury on Sunday began on his farm was seriously concerned for the safety of those nearby.

Randal Hanrahan was working on the southern end of his Rakaia farm when a southerly change came together with a north-easterly gust to form a small twister.

Only 100m from the farmer, the whirlwind slowly moved through a field filled with crops of barley before moving into a paddock of freshly planted potatoes.

That's where Mr Hanrahan says the small twister gathered up dust, eventually growing into the large tornado and picking up speed.

He said initially he hadn't been concerned, as small dust storms were frequent across the Canterbury plains.

But as it kept growing, moving quickly towards his farm's machinery and nearby houses, "I realised it was a tornado... it had the power to hurt people".

"At that stage I stopped videoing and quickly rang home to make sure everyone was out of harm's way."

"It ended up skirting right around one of the houses on the property. It went about 25m away [from one of the houses]," he said.

The twister caused substantial damage to irrigators, a tractor and a mower - all of which he is getting evaluated for insurance.

He said it was lucky he was the only one on the farm and no one was in the track of the soon enormous twister, which "flung" around large tyres and 6m long pipes.

"Even though a bit of property got damaged, no one actually get injured".


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