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Hamilton electrical storm “like a strobe light”

  • 17,000 lightning strikes detected in less than 6 hours
  • Storms peaked at well over 3000 strikes per hour
  • Severe thunderstorm passed right over Hamilton City.

An amazing and rare electrical storm lit up the skies above Waikato last night and around 9pm centred itself over Hamilton city. received numerous comments about the storm with many saying they had never seen anything like it.

Many eyewitnesses described the lightning as non-stop with flashes every “1 or 2 seconds” and one from Cambridge describe it as a “strobe light”.


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Have Photos of the storm?  Upload them here

Head weather analyst Philip Duncan says the recent severe thunder activity over the Waikato region is almost unheard of.  “While thunderstorms of this nature do pop up from time to time across the country it is very rare to see it for so many consecutive days”.

Fork Lightning over Hamilton 2Unlike Tuesday, which saw thunderstorms forming over the North Island around noon, the thunder activity didn’t start until late afternoon yesterday.  “It wasn’t until the end of the afternoon that the thunderstorms burst into life.  The lightning tracker at detected a staggering 17,000 strikes, mostly over the Waikato region, in under 6 hours”.

Fork lightning captured in this video still over Hamilton last night.  Photo / Carl Elphick

The strikes peaked it well over 3000 per hour, a much higher rate than on Tuesday.

MetService have had a high success rate with accurately predicting and monitoring the storms this week with their new Thunderstorm Watches and Warnings.  And today MetService is predicting yet more thunderstorms, some possibly severe over inland parts of the North Island, but today the thunderstorms should also head south with much of the South Island’s interior at risk of thunderstorms.

Mr Duncan says it’s possible the thunderstorms may stretch in to Friday for some places.

Several photos were sent in yesterday – check out our STORM GALLERY


Claire on 27/01/2010 8:19pm

Wish I had seen this! We had a storm in Maroochydore, Queensland, while I was holidaying there in 2008, where the lightning was continuous. I never thought we’d see the same in New Zealand.

Auckland is apparently cloudless this morning. Any small chance we might get a bit of excitement later today?

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