19 Jan 2009

Thunderstorms, hail in South Island

4:17 pm on 19 January 2009

Bad weather struck eastern eastern parts of the South Island on Sunday evening, bringing thunderstorms, strong wind, heavy rain and hail.

The worst hit areas were coastal regions from Christchurch to Dunedin but central parts of Otago and Southland were also affected.

The Fire Service in Christchurch took 124 calls from people reporting flooded garages and basements on Sunday afternoon and evening.

The service says much of the flooding was caused by heavy rain unable to flow through blocked drains in parts of the city's southwestern suburbs.

Strong winds, heavy rain and hailstorms struck South Canterbury.

MetService severe weather forecaster Chris Noble said thunderstorms in Canterbury and northern Otago produced lightning, hailstones ranging in size from 10mm to 15mm in diameter and heavy rain

Farmers happy

However, Federated Farmers says the heavy rain that swept the country on Sunday has been good news for members who have been grappling with dry conditions.

It says Hawke's Bay, north Canterbury and north Otago have been hardest hit by the dry spell, although none of the regions are technically in drought.

Vice-president Frank Brenmuhl says the dry spell had meant reduced returns for farmers but Sunday's storms have relieved the pressure. Parts of the country still need more rain, he says.