Tornado winds reached 200km/h: expert

A tornado that ripped through bushland near Gerroa, leaving behind a massive trail of shattered trees, reached speeds of 200km/h, a Bureau of Meteorology expert says.

The biggest in a family of tornadoes that struck the region's south on the weekend has been given an F2 rating on the Fujita scale of tornado intensity, with F0 the least intense and F5 the most destructive.

Andrew Treloar, the bureau's manager of weather services NSW yesterday told the Mercury experts were now investigating whether the area had actually been hit by five twisters on Sunday morning.

He said three had been confirmed - at Kiama, Gerroa and Jamberoo - while it was likely Albion Park Rail and Gerringong had also been hit by separate twisters.

Although Kiama suffered the worst damage, the tornado that hit south of Gerroa had been even more powerful, tearing a massive brown scar of broken trees through bushland.

"That track actually went from Seven Mile Beach across to Nowra, so that's about 16 kilometres long, and it was about 200 to 300 metres wide at its most intense," Mr Treloar said.

Jamberoo's tornado also carved a long track, sweeping inland 8 kilometres from the coast at speeds of about 125km/h.

Jamberoo Golf Club bore the brunt of the high winds and has been forced to reduce play to the front nine.

Club captain David Ransom said the back nine had been "ripped to pieces", with 50-year-old trees torn out of the ground and flung back to earth like twigs.

Volunteers are working to clear the debris and hope to have the course back on track some time next week, Mr Ransom said.

Kiama remained the focus of the clean-up effort yesterday, where residents evacuated from the worst-hit streets continue to await news on when they can return home.

Mr Treloar confirmed the Kiama tornado had been given a F1 rating, having reached speeds of about 160km/h on its 4-kilometre trail of destruction.

Although the region had been hit by tornadoes in the past, Mr Treloar said this was the first time he had documented such a large occurrence.

 Jamberoo Golf Club's back nine holes were "ripped to pieces". Picture: SUE PAUL

Jamberoo Golf Club's back nine holes were "ripped to pieces". Picture: SUE PAUL

"It's extraordinary that there were only one or two injuries because it certainly had the potential to be so much more," he said.


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