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Spectacular thunderstorm lashes North Island, including Auckland


Spectacular thunderstorms across Auckland last night lit up skies, cut power, disrupted flights and dumped "crazy huge" hourly rainfall amounts in some parts of the city.

The heat-fuelled storms rolled across the city late evening, continuing a day of thunderstorms across much of the North Island, where the Metservice recorded 27,000 lightning strikes between Northland and the Central North Island in the 24 hours to midnight.

Meteorologist Melissa Sterwijk said 2600 lightning strikes were recorded in Auckland in the 24 hours to 7am today, 1400 of those occurring over land.

Downpours of 25mm to 35mm an hour were also recorded in parts of South Auckland during the height of the storm between 9pm and 10pm.

In Otahuhu 25mm was recorded and at the Botanic Gardens in Manurewa 35mm fell in an hour, followed by 15mm in the following hour - the two-hour total of 50mm five per cent of Auckland's average annual rainfall of around 1m.

Waiheke Island also received 25mm in an hour, Sterwijk said.

"It's a crazy huge number ... having that in an hour is like cats and dogs falling out of the sky."

Clarks Beach resident Liz Buchan was among many Aucklanders stunned by the storm's ferocity.

She was looking out her Torkar Rd lounge window when a bolt of lightning struck and partially felled a tree in a reserve across the road.

"It just lit up like a Christmas tree."

The tree has been the focus of much neighbourhood attention this morning, Buchan said.

High winds were recorded in some areas, with gusts of between 60km/h and 80km/h recorded at Tiritiri Matangi Island, in Auckland's Hauraki Gulf, last night, she said.

During the height of the storm, some flights arriving and departing Auckland Airport were delayed because ground crews were not able to work outside during lightning, the airport tweeted.

Meanwhile, a Vector spokeswoman said some South Auckland and Waiheke Island residents lost power during the storm.

Crews had worked overnight to restore power, but six feeds in Takanini and Maraetai remained partially down this morning.

That meant a couple of hundred households may still be without power, but power was expected to be restored for all this morning, the spokeswoman said.

Fire and Emergency attended 21 weather-related call outs overnight, a spokesman said.

Eighteen were in Auckland, two in Waikato and one in Bay of Plenty. Most were related to flooding.

Sterwijk said northerly winds meant there had been a lot more heat building up as warm, moist air came over New Zealand.

Spectacular thunderstorms also occurred in other parts of the North Island, especially the high country between Waikato and Manawatū.

While there was unlikely to be a repeat of last night, there was a moderate risk for thunderstorms in Auckland this afternoon and evening, Sterwijk said.

In Northland and from Waikato to Palmerston North the thunderstorm risk today was high.

The weather would be more settled in other parts of the country today, and everywhere tomorrow.

"There could be a few showers in various places ... the north and east of the North Island is more likely [to get showers], and the hills of the South Island high country."
Weekend highs

Auckland
Today: 24C
Tomorrow: 26C

Hamilton
Today: 24C
Tomorrow: 26C

Tauranga
Today: 22C
Tomorrow: 23C

Wellington
Today: 20C
Tomorrow: 21C

Christchurch
Today: 22C
Tomorrow: 20C

Dunedin
Today: 20C
Tomorrow: 18C

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