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Cloud stretches from Darwin in Northern Australia and right down over New Zealand this morning after being dragged down thanks to a huge low churning away in the lower Tasman Sea.   In the past 24 hours the low has doubled in size and over the next two to three days it’s going to llash New Zealand with heavy rain, severe gales, thunderstorms, hail and snow to low levels. 

Head weather analyst, Philip Duncan, says this storm has the potential to be destructive to lives and property.  “There’ll be damaging gales in central and eastern areas, heavy hail and thunderstorms along the North Island’s west coast, the risk of mini tornadoes along the entire west coast and snow to low levels in the South Island.  This week people need to pay close attention to the forecast details”.

This comes after reports a man inside his house was struck by lightning over the weekend.  “Lightning is a killer in New Zealand and we need to be aware of where the lightning is and when to head in doors”.

Mr Duncan says the Weather Watch Centre has a free lightning radar on its website which gives an indication on where the storms are.  “While it doesn’t have the accuracy of the government’s lightning radar it is free to the public.  It can give you a rough indication as to where the lightning storms are”.

Mr Duncan says the first main front moved on to the South Island overnight and is this morning moving across the North Island.  By tonight strong westerlies will buffet Auckland with a band of thunderstorms and squalls moving across western and central parts of the North Island during Tuesday night and throughout Wednesday.

“The South Island will see and easing of conditions during Tuesday as the eye of the storm engulfs much of the Island.  The tail end of the storm will quickly roar into action on Wednesday bringing south’east gales and snow to many regions such as Southland, Otago and Canterbury”.

That cold air will move into the North Island on Thursday with snow possible on the Desert Road, especially after dark.  Motorists should keep up to date with the latest Time Saver Traffic road conditions.

“Winter temperatures will cover all of New Zealand by Friday and while skies will clear in the north west, temperatures will be much lower.  Auckland’s high on Friday and Saturday may only be around 11 degrees with the wind chill making it feel more like 6 or 7”.

Mr Duncan says the rain over the South Island tonight should bring a further top up for the hydro lakes. The government has issued rain warnings for the West Coast, they can be found in the “weather” section at


Time Line:

Tuesday:  Heavy rain will; ease this afternoon for most places.  Nor’west winds picking up to gale force in some areas from inland Canterbury to Wairarapa.  A weak front tonight will bring heavy showers, thunderstorms and possibly hail to the North Island’s west coast.

Wednesday:  Thunderstorms along the nation’s west coast and sou’westers rising to gales force for much of the country.  Cold southerlies or south easterlies developing in the far south with snow developing in the mountains and lowering significantly in places like Southland and Otago by dark.  The windiest day of the week collectively for NZ.

Thursday:  Snow to low levels in the South easing, and snow possibly falling on the Desert Road.  Severe southerly or sou’easterly gales for the nation’s east coast gradually easing during the day.  Strong winds over the South Island’s east coast easing.

Friday:  Snow still possible on the Desert road and significantly colder over all of New Zealand but conditions improving gradually.

“It’s going to be a stormy week for most New Zealanders and most of us will probably have a couple of restless nights due to heavy showers, hail, thunderstorms or gales” says Mr Duncan.


Brendan Pratt on 21/07/2008 5:15am

Hi there, Just have to ask…. as I am a big fan of storms…. is Tauranga going to get much of the weather thats a about to hit the country. Winds? Rain? Thunder?. Just asking what you think.

Thanks Brendan Pratt

WW Forecast Team on 21/07/2008 6:50am

Gidday Brendan,

Yep I think BoP and Tauranga will be right in the firing line with this system.  I’d imagine winds will gust to gale force near the Kaimais during Wednesday, with some thunderstorms in the mix too.  There’s an outside chance of the odd small tornado too…sometimes the Bay gets them with these western squalls moving in.

For those who love weather it’s gonna be an exciting few days!


Philip Duncan

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