BARNAWARTHA North residents are counting the cost of the damage caused during a frightening five-minute cyclone on Tuesday night.
Roaring wind ripped trees from their roots, knocked down walls and flung parts of a roof metres away from three homes along McLinden Road about 7pm.
Bureau of Meteorology duty forecaster Geoff Feren said warm weather, low-level moisture and high winds created a mesocyclone, a spine of wind that can create tornados.
Mr Feren said there may have been a “very brief” tornado touchdown but the bureau could not confirm it.
“We can’t say it was a tornado. We can say the radar does show a signature that could have spawned a tornado,” he said.
Builder Peter Frawley, 60, was at home with his daughter Melissa Frawley, 33, when the storm hit.
“We thought the whole house was going to go. The wind was absolutely roaring,” he said.
“It’s something we never want to experience again. It was frightening.”
It wasn’t until the wind eased between three and five minutes later did they go outside and discover a large tree had uprooted and fallen onto the back of the house, causing the roof to partly collapse.
Mr Frawley said it was the third time in 20 years a freak storm had caused extensive damage to his property. Ten years ago a similar storm had destroyed his dairy.
South of the Frawley home were the markings of a variable trail of destruction.
The property next door was barely touched, but the storm hit the next home and skipped the one after that before touching down again on the next home on the corner of McLinden Road and Kings Road.
Wendy McLinden, the Frawleys’ neighbour, described what she believed was a tornado.
“The rain was swirling in a tornado-type effect,” Ms McLinden said.
Ms McLinden recently left the home she had lived in with husband Anthony for 29 years to build another.
She was cleaning it in preparation for renters to move in on Monday when the storm hit.
The wind ripped off half a pergola roof and flung it over the side of the house, narrowly missing her car.
Richard Gruber, who also lives on the corner of McLinden Road, found the brick wall of his pergola torn down with part of its roof flung into the front yard.
Rob Whyte watched the storm hit from the safety of his property, Gooramadda Olives, on top of a hill 16 kilometres away.
Mr Whyte moved from Sydney four weeks ago and his wife, Melanie Coid, will soon join him from Sydney.
Ms Coid had evacuated her dance studio yesterday in the Blue Mountains because of the bushfires.
“She’s doing battle with fires and I’ve got a tornado,” he said.