A huge waterspout off the Maketu coast, south of Mt Maunganui, yesterday. Photo / Kim Easther
The heavens opened up over the Bay of Plenty yesterday with force rarely seen in New Zealand before.
Some are saying the hail storm and waterspout (right) were possibly the biggest ever seen in New Zealand matching the size and strength of storms more often seen in America’s mid-west.
A 4 wheel drive drives down a street in Ohope, Bay of Plenty – a street that looks more like a South Island mountain stream. Photo / Deborah Jeffray
Reports of damage remain fairly minimal and head weather analyst Philip Duncan says that is a miracle in itself. “This was as severe as it gets in New Zealand, a giant water spout and hail that was 10cms thick to walk in. Damage could’ve been much, much worse”.
Mr Duncan says from what he could see on rain radar and the lightning detector the worst of the system stayed just offshore. “Perhaps if it had been a few kilometres closer to land we might’ve seen major damage across Tauranga, the Mount and Te Puke”.
“I don’t know if the hail storm was a record breaker but the water-spout would certainly be one for the record books”.
There was no word on whether the hail had caused damage to kiwifruit crops in Te Puke, the kiwifruit capital of the world.
The centre of the low, responsible for the storms, made landfall near Raglan, west of Hamilton, around 5pm yesterday evening and continued to churn out torrential rain and thunderstorms to areas within a 200km radius.
Around 15,000 lightning strikes were tallied in the 24 hours ending at midnight Monday, most of which were around the Bay of Plenty.
Thunderstorms around Auckland on Sunday night. Photo / Simon Williams.
Torrential rain lasted much of last night between Taranaki and Te Kuiti as the low slowly moved in land.
Today 3 low pressure systems remain evenly placed around the country, yesterday’s low near Taranaki will today lie off the Hawkes Bay coast while a second much weaker low forms again near Taranaki (and isn’t expected to last long).
A third more stable low remains off the Otago and Southland coasts and will continue to drive in sleet and bitterly cold conditions to the lower half of the South Island during Tuesday morning, easing later.
Today is expected to be a calmer day weatherwise however heavy showers, some with hail, will remain in western parts of the North Island this morning north of Taranaki.
Rain and cold winds are also likely in Wellington.
Tuesday is also going to be another cold day. Highs in the single digits or below 13 are expected almost everywhere, except Auckland, Napier and Nelson on 14, Whangarei on 16, and Gisborne & Wanganui on 15.
Thank you to everyone who contributed photos and eyewitness reports yesterday. The team at the Weather Watch Centre couldn’t have given such indepth news updates without your support.