Regan Schoultz is an NZME news service reporter based in Auckland.

Lightning strikes as wild weather hits

Around 30,000 lightning strikes have hit land sea around the country in the last 24 hours thanks to the severe weather hitting New Zealand's west coast.

Wild winds in Christchurch are bringing down power lines and lifting roofs off houses as emergency services battle to combat the fierce conditions.

The Fire Service has attended half a dozen callouts due to the gales.

A Fire Service spokesman said the winds were forecast to strengthen, and staff were preparing to deal with more damage as the night progressed.

Earlier the wild weather swept up the west coast of the North Island drenching parts of the Waikato and Auckland.

Matthew Davison captured a dramatic photo of a lightning strike looking north from Achilles Point at St Heliers.

"Witnessed over 30+ strikes, high wind and rain for 30 mins or so - best lightning show for a while!"

The storm had now passed over, he said.

Auckland Civil Defence said thunder and lightning strikes were passing through South Auckland at 7.30pm tonight.


A Fire Service spokeswoman said they had been dealing with trees that had fallen and blocked roads, and some flooding.

Auckland Civil Defence Emergency Management reported winds gusting to 120km/h with thunder storms and lightning buffeting the area of Manukau Heads.

" It is passing through and we are keeping an eye on the weather. You may get rain and thunderstorms in the next hour in areas of Auckland. If you have any pictures or videos then do share them with us! Latest lightning strikes in the last 30 minutes."

"There is some heavy, heavy rain for Manawatu and Taihape but the main thunderstorms are in that region. It looks like it is just hitting Hamilton at the moment," meteorologist Emma Blades said.

"Now Auckland is getting some bands of thunderstorms but fortunately the city is missing the worst of it so they are just getting some heavy showers and the odd lightning strike."

HOW IS THE WEATHER WHERE YOU ARE?

She said the rain was continuing to pour in Buller while in North Otago heavy rain had just made its way through Oamaru and was heading up the coast.

"At about 8pm tonight a really, really strong southerly is going to hit Christchurch so we have got a wind warning for [the city] and Banks Peninsula."

Severe weather warnings are in place for the west of the South Island and Tararua Range, with severe gales around Banks Peninsula.

Thunderstorms are expected for most of the North Island, and the top of the South Island, as a series of active fronts make their way northeast over the country.

Wellington meanwhile seems to have avoided the bulk of the bad weather this evening.
Kapiti Coast however got some decent thunderstorms and around 8mm or rain per hour, Ms Blades said.

There have however been reports of flight disturbances this evening at Wellington Airport due to the weather hitting parts of the country.

MetService meteorologist Tom Adams said it was not however expected to be as bad in the capital because it was somewhat sheltered from the west.

"The thing about Wellington is it is going to be coming through here around about rush hour so it doesn't take much to affect the flow of traffic. Even people just looking out the window at the thunderstorms as they are driving along is going to have the potential to cause issues."

Travellers heading to the city today by plane have also been warned flights could be disrupted by bad weather.

Air New Zealand said strong wind lashing the region may affect flights in and out of Wellington today and for passengers to check arrivals and departures.

Earlier today, severe weather swept through parts of the South Island including Greymouth where a forming water spout was spotted by locals. Footage taken from the south end of the Greymouth aerodrome and loaded to Facebook appeared to show one starting to form out to sea.

The three-minute clip has been viewed more than 7000 times and has been shared almost 200 times since it was posted this morning.

A video shot by the Greymouth Star also showed strong downpours and lightning strikes in the town centre.

Severe rain and thunderstorms warnings have been forecast for Auckland, the West Coast and the Kapiti Coast this evening while medium storms are expected in the capital.

Meanwhile, WeatherWatch forecaster Philip Duncan said it may not be as bad as expected in Auckland and Wellington.

"I think it is going to be just an outburst of downpours, maybe some thunder but it might not by much either," Mr Duncan said.

"The main thing with this weather pattern, the downpours, the thunder and the wind is all tied into about three or four lows that are going to affect New Zealand from now for the next 10 days."

He said the weather would however worsen in the coming days.

"We are going to get more of this and it is going to get worse as the week goes on. It is quite a big change from the warm sub-tropical lazy summer weather we have been seeing lately, this is kind of the stormier side to autumn."

In the South Island, Mr Duncan said a narrow band of thunderstorms were currently brushing the West Coast.

"It is quite an active front so it means it is not huge in size but where the thunderstorms are it is quite active and that is currently moving up the west coast of the South Island and will move into the North Island's west coast later today and tonight."

The front would however "weaken as it moves north to some degree", he said.

- NZ Herald

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