Russell Blackstock

Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Herald on Sunday.

More thunder in store for North Island

Lightning hits the Sky Tower around 00:45am today, as seen from Freemans Bay. Photo / David Li
Lightning hits the Sky Tower around 00:45am today, as seen from Freemans Bay. Photo / David Li

Weather experts say that more spectacular electrical storms like those that lit up the sky over Auckland in the early hours of yesterday could be headed our way today.

A total of 2332 lightning strikes were recorded - at a rate of more than 1000 an hour - as a band of thunderstorms moved across Auckland, Northland and parts of Coromandel.

More of the same - but perhaps a little less dramatic - could happen again today, said MetService forecaster John Law.

"It's going to be an interesting Sunday as there is an area of low pressure moving across the Tasman and that has associated fronts wrapping around it as well."

Scattered rain in the morning would become more persistent as the day went on and there was a chance of big rumbles later in the afternoon as rain pushed in from the west, he said.

Herald on Sunday weatherman Phil Duncan from WeatherWatch said the thunderclaps were the loudest he had heard in a decade.

"I love a good thunderstorm and this was one of the better ones," he said. "It was also the strangest thunder I have heard. At times it was so loud, it sounded like a rocket backfiring."

Some Aucklanders took to the WeatherWatch Facebook page after the storm triggered torrential downpours. Geoff Blackmore posted: "Attention white water rafters: My driveway is now available ..."

Edward Wild saw the Sky Tower being hit by lightning. "I saw a double strike, a V-shape, it was amazing," he said. " The entire sky was lit up multiple times and there were 15-second thunderclaps."

A spokesman for the Sky Tower said the tower was closed when the storm hit and the lightning was not a problem.

Police said car alarms were set off around the city. Private security firms also responded to calls from alarms at businesses.

"We had a few more callouts than usual in the early hours of Saturday," said Mike Rutherford, boss of First Security in Auckland.

The SPCA also received calls from worried pet-owners, after animals were spooked by the deafening thunder.

"Thunder and lightning can terrify animals," said Nick Thomason, the SPCA's chief inspector in Auckland. "It is best to keep pets indoors when a storm hits or, if they are outdoors, ensure they are securely sheltered."

- Herald on Sunday

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