A BUREAU of meteorology employee and self-confessed storm chaser was in the right place at the right time when a tornado swept through western NSW on Saturday.
Weather observer Cameron Hines was able to capture striking images of the tornado on his camera.
"I'd been filling in at the Cobar Bureau of Meteorology Office and on my days off was travelling to Coonabarabran to try to see snow - I'm from Queensland so we don't see much of it," he said.
"I thought the sky in the area looked very interesting so I floated about seeing what it might come up with.
"I expected a few interesting lightning bolts, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine it would turn out to be a tornado, which it absolutely was."
Mr Hines was near Quambone when he saw the tornado rip through an area which it was later revealed also affected Armatree and Gulargambone.
"I saw it develop to the west and luckily it didn't do a direct hit on town," he said.
"I'd say at its most intense it had a width of maybe 100-200m.
"With tornadoes like this, anything in its path is affected and the pattern is such that you can have incidents where a house will be destroyed and a neighbouring one will be completely untouched. It's the luck of the draw."
I expected a few interesting lightning bolts, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine it would turn out to be a tornado, which it absolutely was.Cameron Hines, weather observer
Mr Hines, who had chased storms in the USA, said tornadoes were more common in Australia than many imagined.
"They are rare in winter, but we do get about 16 confirmed tornadoes in Australia every year," he said.
"Since record keeping began in NSW, not long after the First Fleet, there have been 364 reported in NSW.
"Many more would go undocumented."
Mr Hines had posted his own images and others from local residents that had shared their own photos and video footage of the tornado.
"In the social media age there is a bigger opportunity for people to get their images out there, it's great," he said.
Meanwhile Coonamble Shire Council crews had been kept busy in the aftermath of the tornado, clearing debris from roads in affected areas.
There were numerous strips of land where the tornado had uprooted trees, and shire boundary signs had also been damaged or flattened, according to a council spokesperson.