17 Aug 2018

'Horrendous' lightning strike shatters windows

1:35 pm on 17 August 2018

A woman who had her window shattered after a lightning strike hit a tree in Tokoroa says the noise was "horrendous".

More than 8000 lightning strikes have hit the west coast of the North Island, with one hitting Tokoroa about 7am.

A tree exploded and caught fire, causing power lines to come down and gas main to rupture.

Sharyn Newman, a Tokoroa resident of 15 years, woke to the sound of lightning cracking the neighbour's tree.

"The pressure from that sonic boom had shattered windows across the street from me, it shattered my bedroom window, it shattered my friend's window about four houses up. Just from the explosion itself.

"It was quite frightening. It's not a noise that you can akin to anything, like 'oh okay, that was a branch falling off a tree'...it was horrendous"

After checking on her grandchildren, Ms Newman went to investigate the shattered window and saw the flames across the street.

"I was yelling out to my son in law and asking him to call 111 and he was little like 'what? pardon?' so he brought the phone out to me so I could call emergency services.

"I was standing at the door and there are trees and bushes in between me and the fire but it was big and tall and I could see the flames above all of that.

"The tree was completely obliterated. And when I say there was debris... it was all around the street. I'm not talking branches, I'm talking tree trunk. I'm talking a metre long...it was massive."

Chief fire officer Dave Morris said said a large chunk of a tree that fell outside one of the houses had flattened a car.

Mr Morris said contractors were clearing away the debris and the fire was now out.

MetService meteorologist Ravi Kendula said lightning strikes occurred in the west coast of the North Island between 8pm last night and 8am, but that this was "not particularly" strange.

Lightning always goes for the highest point, he said, and the tree in Tokoroa would have been hit because it was an "elevated feature".

Today's weather

The upper North Island can expect periods of rain, but the weather is expected to ease this afternoon.

Heavy rain and thunderstorms are also expected north of Taupō later today, easing later tonight.

MetService has issued a severe weather watch for heavy rain in Buller, northwest Nelson, and also Mt Taranaki, Tongariro National Park and the hill country from Taranaki to Lake Taupō.

There is also a moderate risk of thunderstorms in Waikato, Auckland, Northland, Coromandel and parts of Bay of Plenty this morning and early afternoon. MetService said the thunderstorms may be accompanied by localised heavy rain with intensities of 10mm to 25mm per hour and hail of 5mm to 15mm diameter.

Temperatures across the country are likely to sit around the mid-teens.

Snow is also forecast in Lindis Pass, Porters Pass, Crown Range Road and Milford Road today.