Lightning strike wrecks home

By Isaac Davison

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Sam Johnston, son of the homeowner, sits on what remains of the garden wall. Photo / Alan Gibson
Sam Johnston, son of the homeowner, sits on what remains of the garden wall. Photo / Alan Gibson

The severe thunderstorms which cut power and demolished property in parts of the North Island will give way to warm, fine weather this weekend.

MetService warned of intermittent thundery weather until Saturday and gale-force winds on Sunday. But in between stormy spells it expected clearer conditions. A warm, dry wind from Australia would lift temperatures to nearly 20C in much of the North Island.

The vicious storm early yesterday morning cut power to 8500 homes in the Bay of Plenty, as well as breaking windows and damaging property.

A bolt of lightning destroyed a concrete wall and steps at a house in Tauranga, throwing debris into the air.

"I used to work in Belfast and the only thing I've heard that loud was explosives," said homeowner Sam Johnston. "Inside ... papers flew in the air, and socket points blew off the wall across the living room, all melted."

Power at his family's home was off for more than 12 hours, and he expected he would have to replace all of his phone cables.

Weather ambassador Bob McDavitt said 150 lightning strikes were recorded in Western Bay of Plenty over a two-hour period. Phone cables were damaged, and a wooden power pole was set on fire. Residents spoke of the sky being lit up like daylight, and thunder as loud as a shotgun.

The warm, unsettled weather was typical of spring, said Weatherwatch analyst Philip Duncan, and had arrived a month earlier than expected. He said the drier conditions would be of concern to farmers.

- NZ Herald

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