Amazing 850 lightning strikes in two hours in New Zealand
A thunderous night of lightning and heavy downpours set off a series of fire alarms in buildings around Hamilton City and cut power to parts of Thames and Coromandel.
In the two hours until 1.30 am, a total of 850 lightning strikes were reported to MetService in the top half of the North Island, most along the coast from Waitomo Northwards.
MetService duty meteorologist Rob Kerr said from 2am to 4am there were 280 lightning strikes between Hamilton and Great Barrier Island.
”Around 2am this morning there was a front that moved through over the northern half of the North Island bringing thunderstorms. In the two hours it crossed up to 3.30am, there were 250 strikes around Hamilton, Coromandel, Thames and parts of Auckland – half of those were between Auckland and Hamilton.”
Northern Fire Communications shift manager Jarron Philips said firefighters were called to seven fire alarms activated by lightning strikes in the space of 10 minutes at different locations around Hamilton.
”They were all different buildings in different areas – all were false alarms caused by lightning at commercial buildings – we have to respond to each of those.”
The first call came in at 2.07am to Carter Holt Harvey packaging on Pukeko Street in Frankton. Alarms were also activated at Nalco Powder Coating in Maui Street, Pukete and Fraser High School’s sport and recreation centre.
Then three more alarms were set off at 2.10am – two at the University of Waikato, at College Hall and the Aquatic Research Centre, and another at Whitiora School on Willoughby Street.
Chartwell Fire Brigade Station Officer Robert Hos said the brigade attended two of the false alarms, with Hamilton and Pukete attending the rest.
Thames District Council reported power outages in Coromandel, Pauanui, Tairua, Thames and Whitianga overnight.
Thunderstorms also came with heavy downpours, with a total of 20.5mm of rain falling on Ruakiwi Road, near Hamilton Lake, in the last 12 hours.
”There were rain bands between 2 and 4am, with most places getting a peak rainfall of between 8 and 10mm an hour,” said Kerr. Kerr said Te Aroha had the highest rainfall at 12.5mm per hour.”Its definitely heavy rain, although we do have higher frequencies.”
Showers are set to increase in Hamilton today with another band of heavy rain coming through tomorrow, said Kerr.
”We are keeping an eye on the wind as it is forecast to increase to gusting Northwesterlies tomorrow.”
Unsettled air pushing through behind the front could bring more thunderstorms late Saturday, he said.