13 Sep 2011

Hail pelts Wellington, Wairarapa next

4:11 pm on 13 September 2011

A spectacular hailstorm pelted Wellington early on Tuesday afternoon, coating roads throughout the city in white.

Amid rain, thunder and lightning, big hailstones were reported in suburban Wadestown and Karori.

A Radio New Zealand reporter says cars ground to a halt on a motorway on-ramp because drivers were unable to see, and described it as the scariest drive of her life.

Police Central Communications' Senior Sergeant Marty Edghill said the "spectacular lightning and thunderstorm" was an impressive sight.

"Just outside Wellington central we had marble-sized hailstones coming down."

He said no traffic or other issues related to the storm had been immediately reported.

However, motorists reported problems, with some unable to get traction on the ice and one car hitting the motorway median barrier, buckling an axle.

A Radio New Zealand staff member driving down Ngauranga Gorge at the time said it was the worst hail storm she had seen in more than 40 years' driving. Hailstones lay as deep as last month's snow in many places.


MetService says the blast of bad weather, including hail, was heading for Wairarapa.

Duty forecaster Ian Gall says Wairarapa could expect a short and sharp burst of hail and squally thunderstorms.

He says the bad weather would then track out to sea.