The West Coast has been peppered by almost 7500 lightning strikes, with 1100 in the hour before midday alone. Weather Watch reporter Katrina Lowe said the storm cut power in Greymouth for a short time. We had flashes every 30 seconds and the thunder was just rumbling and rumbling, Ms Lowe said.
Weather analyst Philip Duncan said the thunderstorms were now heading north towards Taranaki. The next band of big thunderstorms is heading in to Taranaki this afternoon, with all western regions south of Auckland exposed to dangerous lightning strikes, Mr Duncan said.
He said with the number of lightning strikes expected, there could be direct hits on buildings, trees and lamp posts. Meanwhile, the MetService has predicted wind gusts of up to 120km/h could batter the east coast from the Wairarapa to North Canterbury tomorrow morning.
MetService forecaster Ian Miller said the winds would hit exposed hilltops on the Rimutaka Rd, Castle Point and parts of Marlborough and the Kaikoura Coast in the south.
He said people on motorbikes and drivers of high-sided trucks and campervans could face dangerous conditions. Mr Miller said three active fronts were rolling in and would move up the east coast bringing bursts of heavy rain and thunderstorms. He said the heavy falls were expected on the West Coast and Nelson and MetService had issued a weather warning to these areas.
Mr Miller said high ground between Taranaki and Lake Taupo was set for a drenching from today until Friday and thunderstorms with wind gusts of up to 110km an hour could also batter the region. Looking ahead, a cold snap is due to hit Eastern Otago, Fiordland and Southland with snow down to 300m on Friday through to Sunday.
Parts of Canterbury are also set for a freeze with snow down to 500m.