Tornadoes (commonly named Twisters in the USA) do occur in Australia although with less frequency and ferocity than in other parts of the world.
Basically, tornadoes are violently rotating columns of air, and in Australia are most often associated with supercell thunderstorms.
The Macleay Valley has felt their impact on many occasions over the years, some of the most notable weather events occurring in 1918, 1964 and 1968.
It is only relatively recently, with our more closely settled population, that their effects have been noticed more keenly.
The residents of the Macleay were still celebrating the end of World War 1 on Friday November 15 1918, when around 3pm a cyclonic storm originating in the high country swept down Majors, Hickeys and Mungay Creeks gaining momentum until it struck Collombatti and Clybucca leaving a three quarter mile (1.2 kms) swath of destruction.
At Clybucca, roofs were ripped off barns and houses and the newly opened Ronleo Cheese Factory was flattened with extensive damage to stock and plant.
The accompanying heavy fall of hail destroyed crops whilst three bullocks belonging to a Clybucca teamster, several horses, cows and calves were all killed when struck by lightning.
The devastation caused was said to have been on a scale equalled locally.
Frederickton was hit by a tornado which struck on Monday January 27 1964 at 12.30 am, just when many people were preparing their midday meal.
Four people were injured, mostly from broken glass. Trees were ripped out, houses severely damaged, television aerials brought down and windows punched out by hailstones the size of cricket balls.
Mr and Mrs Reg Perrin's home was partly unroofed, the roof of Mr and Mrs Ron Hickson's verandah was blown off and a wall was destroyed in Mrs Nell Batterson's house.
The storm was said to have been the worst disaster ever to strike the township.Later the same year, Smithtown was hit by a tornado which struck at 1.30am on August 24.
Houses belonging to Mrs C Brady, Mr and Mrs Rod Neal and Mrs G Wright, all in Main Street, were unroofed whilst a cottage occupied by PMG worker Mr Les Walters was moved off its foundations and badly damaged.
At the time, this event was described as a whirlwind however scientists were later to classify it a tornado.
Another tornado struck Kempsey at 2.10 pm on Monday March 4 1968. It appeared to come from the Euroka area, flattening crops and trees there, before hitting West Kempsey, where most of the roof was blown off the High School auditorium, the Showground and the Catholic Convent School before crossing Glenrock plain.
At Frederickton, the Methodist Church was lifted from its foundations and sustained irreparable damage. The Moon River Motel in Smith Street lost its roof and caravans were overturned at a nearby caravan park.
Witnesses reported seeing a large T-shaped black cloud flecked with white over Kempsey before the storm struck, which was accompanied by lightning and torrential rain.
The Macleay River Historical Society has thousands of photographs similar to those published. These may be inspected at the Kempsey Museum, Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm. Bookings are essential, call 6562 7572.