25 May 2016

'Intense' lightning and thunderstorm rattles Wellington

1:02 pm on 25 May 2016

Dozens of lightning strikes lit up Wellington last night as a huge thunderstorm rattled the capital and cut power to 18,000 homes.

Lightning flash over a multi-storey building in Molesworth St, Wellington.

Lightning flashing over central Wellington. Photo: SUPPLIED / Thomas, from Wellington

Wellington Electricity said 18,000 customers had been affected, but power has now returned to all homes.

Chief executive Greg Skelton said the company had restored power in stages to make sure the network was not overloaded.

He said lightning had struck hit the transformer that takes power from the National Grid near Gracefield.

Power went out in Wainuiomata, Eastbourne, Petone and the Southern parts of Lower Hutt, he said.

He said this latest was the fifth storm front to come through overnight.

As the lightning lit up the sky, thunder and heavy wind gusts shook houses in the capital last night, with some residents describing the storm as intense.

"Never seen such constant, prolific lightening before," a Wellingtonian texted RNZ.

Share pictures or video of the storm with us at iwitness@radionz.co.nz

MetService said the "impressive" line of thunderstorms moved quickly through the capital then off to the east of the city.

The forecaster said the storms were swept in to the city by an active band of rain.

Although there were thousands of lightning strikes across the country last night MetService said the thunderstorm was is one of the smaller ones in recent weeks.

In the 12 hours from 11pm to 11am, 2568 lightning strikes were recorded.

Winds were strongest around Wellington, with 118km/hour gusts recorded on the Rimutakas.

MetService meteorologist Lisa Murray said the typical autumn weather, with a westerly airflow, would hang about until the weekend.

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