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Thunderstorms explode over Canterbury


As predicted by MetService yesterday a large area of thunderstorms has exploded over Canterbury. 

The Weather Watch Centre’s Head weather analyst Philip Duncan says lightning strikes have shot up this afternoon with almost 1200 recorded in just the past 60 minutes by the live Lightning Detector at He says it’s a result of afternoon heating combined with unstable air conditions.

Mr Duncan says violent thunderstorms like this can be deadly and people should stay indoors until the storms have eased later today or this evening. Earlier last year a man was killed by lightning in Northland while riding his horse during a violent thunderstorm.

“There are a number of large cells moving through the Canterbury region with Christchurch expected to receive more heavy rain and thunderstorms shortly” says Duncan.

MetService issued a special update warning that large hail may fall over Canterbury.

Meanwhile thunderstorms over the North Island appear to have mostly dissipated dispite an active thunderstorm watch. Heavy rain is moving into Waikato with rain or heavy showers expected for Auckland later this afternoon or evening.

Hot and humid weather continues ahead of the front with Whangarei reaching a very muggy 28 degrees this hour with 24 in Auckland fanned by a strong westerly. It’s 27 across the Coromandel Peninsula compared to just 14 degrees in Oamaru.

See our live Lightning Detector here.


Do you have photos or eyewitness acounts of the thunderstorms or hail?  Send them to us and we’ll share them with the news media!  Use the Upload Your Photos link on the right hand side, or send us a YouTube link with any video footage.


JohnGaul on 3/01/2009 4:10am

A great thunderstorm passed over West Melton from 3pm with lots of thunder and a few close CGs (cloud to ground) lightning strikes.
The hail wasn’t as big as what was forcasted, thank goodness, but we got a good dolloping of rain, which is welcomed.
The highlight of the storm was the continuous rolling sound of thunder heard between 3:30pm and 4:20pm.
Haven’t heard this for ages.


WW Forecast Team on 3/01/2009 4:45am

Great update!  Many thanks for that!

T-Storm Watcher on 3/01/2009 3:07am

It’s amazing. I live on the northeast side of Christchurch and see the dark black clouds and can hear the thunder, but haven’t had any rain or hail as of yet.

T-Storm Watcher on 3/01/2009 3:29am

The rain has arrived now… with lots of thunder and lightning – however no hail at all!

Guest on 3/01/2009 3:07am

I am in Woolston – plenty of hail falling here now, nothing too big yet & I hope it stays that way.

Guest on 3/01/2009 2:44am

Literally 15 seconds after having posted my last comment a massive clap of thunder and some lightning! 😀

Guest on 3/01/2009 2:42am

Jeez i have been keeping an eye on the tracker on your site.. insane amount of strikes being recorded in a short amount of time.. Went up several hundred within five minutes.

Been hearing thunder for around the last hour in Christchurch with a heave burst of rain mixed with a very small amount of hail for a time.
Yet to see flashes but fingers crossed will get some action.
Very dark here now.

Stay safe out there guys! 🙂

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