Auckland’s state of emergency has ended after the city was pummelled by flooding, wild winds, and torrential rain and forecasters have reported that the worst of the stormy weather has passed.
Mayor Wayne Brown said, when lifting the state of emergency introduced on Tuesday, that there were no weather watches or warnings in place for Auckland, “but we may see squally showers and thunderstorms across the region throughout the day”.
“These will come in short bursts and may bring more lightning, strong wind gusts and a low risk of hail.
”I would like to acknowledge the efforts of everyone who contributed to this emergency response.
“Everything that could be done was done, or otherwise ready to go.
”Once again, we saw a fantastic community-led response and our elected members were hard at work on the ground.
”However, there is always room for improvement, and we will continue to learn the lessons from these severe weather events.”
While all weather warnings in the South Island have been lifted a sole road snowfall warning is still in place for Desert Rd in the North Island, this has been extended through to 5pm today.
WeatherWatch said there could still be some more squalls, thunderstorms and gales before the day is over, despite the worst of the stormy weather having peaked.
Electrical storms rumble overhead
Thunderstorms continue to rumble overhead Auckland this morning as a wintry blast brings more violent weather to the city and snow forces the closure of a main North Island highway.
More rain and strong gusts are due to hit the top of the country today with showers - some heavy - thunderstorms and hail all featuring on today’s forecast.
A total of 1247 lightning strikes were recorded in the North Island between 8pm and 6am, according to MetService this morning.
Auckland saw 329 lightning strikes, while the Waikato region was described as the “lightning rod” of the north by meteorologist Alec Holden; clocking in 414 strikes in total overnight.
“The western half of the North Island is going to be bearing the brunt of this continued poor weather [today].”
“The North Island is going to be a bit chilly and a bit gloomy, but come Saturday - things are going to be fine as a high pressure system arrives.”
Waka Kotahi is warning motorists to expect delays on Auckland’s Harbour Bridge “due to ongoing strong wind gusts”.
“[The] Harbour Bridge will be operating with four lanes in each direction during this morning’s peak travel period. Expect delays.
“Take extra care especially if you are in a lighter or high-sided vehicle,” the organisation said.
It is also set to be a cold day. The MetService is forecasting a temperature high of 14C, while an overnight low of 8C will mean for an extra blanket or two.
Just after 6am, the weather authority reported conditions to be feeling like 13C and that people would need three layers of clothing - including something windproof.
Strong westerly winds are also on the cards. Gusts of up to 56km/h are expected, MetService said.
A sudden cluster of thunderstorms hit the city overnight - about 9pm - bringing in howling winds, heavy rain and hail stones “the size of peanut M&Ms”.
Loud thunder preceded flashes of lightning - at one point, striking the Sky Tower.
Members of the public from various parts of the city took to social media to share photos of giant hail stones and dramatic video footage - including the spectacular moment the Sky Tower was struck.
The hailstorm was reported in suburbs around Auckland - including in Pt Chevalier and Mt Albert.
While heavy rain and thunderstorms were also reported in Mt Eden, Onehunga, Titirangi, Massey, Ponsonby and parts of South Auckland.
The size of the hailstones was described by one Mt Albert resident as being “as big as M&Ms”.
“The most intense thunderstorm I’ve ever experienced is rolling over Ponsonby right now,” one local said.
Desert Rd closed
Motorists in the central North Island are advised to monitor for road updates regularly.
Just before 7am, Waka Kotahi NZTA Central North Island issued a road closure notice for SH1 / SH46.
“Due to snow conditions, the following road is closed.”
- SH1 Rangipō to Waioru (Desert Rd)
- SH46 Tongariro to Rangipō
Motorists are told to detour via SH3, SH4, SH47 and SH41 until further notice.
Deputy Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni had a frightening experience as the plane she was travelling on attempted to land at Auckland Airport during the weather event.
“The plane was getting knocked around. Ended up circling for about 45 minutes and then landing safely,” she shared on social media.
Road snowfall warning
There are no severe weather warnings in place at the moment.
A heavy snow watch for the northern hills of Southland north to the Waitaki River - not including the lower-lying parts of North Otago, Dunedin and Clutha expired this morning.