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Thunderstorms knock out rain radar…again


As it did north west of Auckland the other day the rain radar has gone offline, cancelling severe thunderstorm warnings.

MetService: Lightning from this afternoons thunderstorms has affected communications with the Canterbury weather radar, and images are not presently being received at MetService. No further severe thunderstorm warnings will be issued unless communication with the radar is restored. At present (6pm) the thunderstorm activity is north of Christchurch. Refer to the Severe Thunderstorm Watch for further detail.

Earlier story… confirms that “golf ball size” hail fell in parts of Canterbury earlier today…

Weather analyst Richard Green is currently in the middle of the northern most thunderstorm and says hail has fallen this afternoon from pea size to golf ball size.  “It was so heavy that motorists had to pull over.  The thunderstorm has been incredible with non-stop thunder all afternoon, just one rumble after another and constant flashes of lightning.

Hail of this size can cause major damage to crops, glass houses, cars, and be fatal to humans and livestock.’s lightning tracker has detected an “explosion of lightning strikes” in the past hour – close to 600 lightning strikes have been recorded over Canterbury in the past 60 minutes.

Issued by MetService at 04:26 pm Monday 14 December 2009.
Valid until 05:15 pm Monday 14 December 2009.

This warning affects people in the following local government areas:

At 04:15 pm, MetService weather radar detected severe thunderstorms near METHVEN, HIGHBANK, RAKAIA and CHERTSEY.

These severe thunderstorms are moving towards the northeast, and are expected to lie near GLENTUNNEL, HORORATA and RAKAIA at 04:45 pm and near SHEFFIELD, DUNSANDEL and GREENDALE at 05:15 pm


These thunderstorms are expected to be accompanied by large hail.

Large hail can cause significant damage to crops, orchards, vines, glasshouses and vehicles, and make driving conditions hazardous.

A Severe Thunderstorm Watch remains in force for CANTERBURY HIGH COUNTRY, CANTERBURY PLAINS and CHRISTCHURCH.

LATEST MAP – 4:30pm

Large hail can cause significant damage to crops, orchards, vines, glasshouses and vehicles, and make driving conditions hazardous.

Large hail associated with this storm has been reported earlier from WOODBURY.

A Severe Thunderstorm Watch remains in force for CANTERBURY HIGH COUNTRY, CANTERBURY PLAINS and CHRISTCHURCH

Reports of an aggressive thunderstorm are coming in from Canterbury this afternoon prompting to issue their first ever Storm Alert for Canterbury, warning unstable weather conditions may see severe thunderstorms developing this afternoon.

Weather analyst Richard Green says pea sized hail and a non-stop thunder have been rattling inland parts of Canterbury this afternoon.  “The downpour I was in was torrential.  Non-stop hail, non-stop thunder and very loud”.

The Canterbury rain radar shows a number of heavy showers, some with hail, moving across the region.

In the past hour 100 strikes have been picked up by the Lightning Tracker at, mostly around Canterbury. 

The MetService has issued a Thunderstorm Watch for the entire Canterbury region warning there’s a high risk of thunderstorms today and a moderate risk of Severe Thunderstorms, with weak tornadoes and hail, for coastal Canterbury which includes Christchurch, Ashburton and Timaru. says Canterbury residents should be aware of this afternoon’s unstable weather conditions as severe thunderstorms can be extremely dangerous.  “We often see large hail and cloud to ground lightning in systems like this which can be fatal”.

A recent severe thunderstorm in Northland killed several cows and last year a man and his horse were killed, also in Northland, during a severe thunderstorm.

“We advise locals to keep up to date with the latest weather news at or from their local Newstalk ZB radio station in case conditions deteriorate further and official warnings are issued”.

The Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management advises that as storms approach you should:
– Take shelter, preferably indoors away from windows;
– Avoid sheltering under trees, if outside;
– Move cars under cover or away from trees;
– Secure any loose objects around your property;
– Check that drains and gutters are clear;
– Be ready to slow down or stop, if driving.
During and after the storm, you should also:
– Beware of fallen trees and power lines;
– Avoid streams and drains as you may be swept away in flash flooding.

This warning is due to be updated or lifted by 03:22 pm Monday 14 December 2009.


robH on 14/12/2009 9:22pm

Hopefully the Met Service will look at finding a way to make the radar as resilient as possible. It is unfortunate that the system is vulnerable to the very situation it is trying to report on at a time when people need it most! To cancel thunderstorm warnings simply because equipment is not available owing to the thunderstorms themselves could result in loss of lives or property.

Mark on 14/12/2009 5:56am

There was a severe hailstorm that went in a strip to the east of Methven about 4 pm, which I got caught in the middle of! It hailed for at least 15 minutes and ranged in size up to $2 coin along with driving rain which has caused severe damage to crops. The hail was piled up on the road to a depth of about 10 cm in the worst area which was about 1km wide strip, which is typical of hail of course. The joys of cropping in Canterbury!!

JohnGaul on 14/12/2009 5:38am

Great thunderstorm day for Canterbury, about time, with various thunderstorms moving through.
Some large hail was reported but nothing here just good steady rain and numerous rumbles of thunder.


Jason on 14/12/2009 5:34am

I’m in Culverden and we are yet to receive any thunder/hail. Looking south the front is not far away (probably 20km), so guessing it is over about Waikari about now at 1830hrs

PK on 14/12/2009 12:57am

The dark looming clouds have rolled in on the Chch city centre… but no thunder/lightning or hail as of yet at 2pm. The lightning tracker shows the storms are close… Will they head coastal towards Chch city or stay inland?

WW Forecast Team on 14/12/2009 1:49am

We’ve just updated the story, hopefully answers your question?


zl4plm on 14/12/2009 4:27am

Def wild afternoon in Canterbury!

I am just north of Darfield / Sheffield and it is black as hell out!

lights flickering … all the time

I have lost the preamp to my APT receiver due to lightning this afternoon!

some extremely strong storms… be careful!

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