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Saturday Night's Lightning

Lightning strikes recorded by the New Zealand Lightning Detection Network during last Saturday night.

Saturday Night's Lightning

There were thousands of thunderclaps over western areas of the North Island last Saturday night. All this lightning activity was caused by a cold front moving in from the Tasman Sea.

MetService Weather Ambassador, Bob McDavitt, says that this particular cold front triggered off thunderstorms over the sea just west of the North Island.

"The cold front didn't bring much rain because most of the thunderstorms weakened as they reached the coast. The highest rainfall we measured in the North Island during the night was 23.3 millimetres and that was in the Bay of Islands.”

Bob McDavitt says that the New Zealand Lightning Detection system counted 14,895 cloud-to-ground lightning strikes over New Zealand and surrounding seas between dusk on Saturday and dawn on Sunday. The number of cloud-to-cloud discharges is estimated to be ten times more.

The New Zealand Lightning Detection Network, owned by TransPower, provides the approximate location of cloud to ground lightning strikes over the country. It was modelled to return a 90% detection efficiency of locating a 5 kiloAmps strike (or larger) to within 500-600 metres anywhere over New Zealand. Timing is accurate to within milliseconds. From its access to this network MetService produces a number of lightning-based products. A composite display of all lightning detected in the past five days is available from the website.


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