4 Dec 2018

Wild weather: Hundreds of lightning strikes, power outage in Auckland

2:32 pm on 4 December 2018

As wet weather drenches much of the country, localised thunderstorms are possible over the next couple of days, MetService says.

One woman on social media posted a video of the lightning hitting Auckland this morning.

One woman on social media posted a video of the lightning hitting Auckland this morning. Photo: Facebook / Amy Bunčuga

The effects were seen early this morning in Auckland with flights being delayed and bouts of lightning in the CBD, leaving one person struck by lightning in South Auckland.

St John Ambulance said they were called to Māngere shortly after 8.30am and took one person to Middlemore Hospital in a moderate condition.

A manager at Happy Campers in Māngere said the person was a member of staff and that while St John Ambulance attended, she was "perfectly okay" and had gone home.

Auckland man, Jordan Swarbrick, who works next door to the Happy Campers office, said it felt like an earthquake when the building next door was struck by lightning. He says at its peak the thunder was so loud he and his work mates used earplugs.

"There were a couple of strikes right above us, they were shaking the building a bit, the power cords were kind of swinging suspended from the roof, almost like a mini-earthquake."

Niwa's Chris Brandalino said that the wild weather broke the record for the wettest December hour in Auckland, however, the worst has passed and mainly fine conditions are expected for the rest of the day.

MetService meteorologist James Millward said: "If you're up North you've probably woken up with a big bang, you've got a cold front moving over the North Island this morning. It should make way to a fairly fine afternoon for a lot of the West of the North Island."

Down south there is a low to the south west of the country which is spinning into the Westland, Fiordland area today, and that's bringing heavy rain. A few thunderstorms have been reported around Aoraki/Mount Cook this morning.

"We have actually got a severe thunderstorm watch in place for areas in Westland and Southland this afternoon right through to 9pm this evening," he said.

The thunderstorms are causing significant disruption to both international and domestic flights at Auckland Airport.

An Air New Zealand spokesperson said it was experiencing delays due to gate availability while a number of departures have been cancelled. A number of Air New Zealand aircraft are being inspected because of possible lightning strikes.

The intense thunderstorms in the North Island have also led to heavy rainfall rates of roughly 25mm per hour.

"The good news for Auckland and the Waikato as well which is also experiencing these thunderstorms, is they do pass through relatively quickly. For Auckland, by the afternoon we are looking at quite a sunny day. It's not all bad news," Mr Millward said.

Power outage in parts of Auckland

Auckland rain 04/12/2018

Photo: RNZ / Kymberlee Fernandes

Lightning strikes have caused power outages in parts of rural Auckland this morning including Whangaparaoa, Piha, Laingholm, Oratia, Helensville, Maraetai, and Clevedon.

Vector said network managers were back-feeding electricity to affected areas from nearby powerlines and power was being restored where possible.

People in those areas may be without power until it is safe for outage crews to repair the faults, Vector said.

According to Niwa, 130 lightning strikes were reported in the Auckland region in five minutes.

MetService forecasted a showery and humid start to the week.

Most of the North Island woke up to dark skies, while the east coast of South Island had a foggy morning.

Meanwhile in the Tropics, Cyclone Owen was named by TCWC Brisbane Sunday evening, the second cyclone of the season in the South Pacific/Coral Sea area. Owen is forecast to remain slow moving over the Coral Sea this week and poses no threat to New Zealand.