Thunderstorm over Christchurch, I nearly got struck!

Location: Canterbury, New Zealand

  • Thunderstorm
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  • Lightning
  • ,
  • Hail
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  • Heavy Rain

What a season 2004 had been in the summer and it just kept coming! I’m writing this in January 2012 so report details may be a little lite, the NZ Weather Forum is always great to look through the archives and remind ones self of what happened! I was at work in town however that didn’t stop a few photo opportunities and I even took a little bit of video where low and behold a lightning bolt must of gone off directly overhead as there is a big whack on the roof above me, the alarm system started going off! I remember that part quite well.

Cold air was sitting over the South Island with 500mb temperatures around -24 degrees, thank goodness for El Nino. This combined with a broad area of low pressure created a great thunderstorm right over Christchurch city in the middle of the day, the convergence zone must’ve been sitting right overhead.

I remember running out to the Waltham over bridge near where I was in town to take some photographs of dark clouds developing over the city just before midday.

Just after midday the lightning and thunder started going off and torrential rain also started to fall. I didn’t get any hail where I was but Stephen Burrows who worked near Northlands mall at the time got about 20 minutes of hail, stones were as large as 10 cent coins and it made car parking areas white! The hail blocked drains and caused the stock room where he worked to flood with 1 inch of water, he of course saw plenty of lightning aswell. The streets outside where I worked also got a little flooded and I hadn’t seen them like that before. Below shows the streets near me and Steven with some hail in his had an hour after it fell so it had melted away a bit by then.

While the thunderstorm was going off overhead with me indoors doing a video from my digital camera at the time a lightning bolt must’ve struck really close just overhead! As I was filming you hear a big “WHACK!” and it shudders me a we bit even as you can see by the movement in the video, the alarm system at work even started firing off, closest I’ve got to a lightning bolt ever and I’d rather it not get that close again! You can watch the video below, it also shows the torrential rain that was falling to with a bit of thunder at the end. I mention 30 meters away in the video but thinking about it, it could well have been much closer.

Steven Graham out in Templeton managed to video some lightning from where he was, the storm he noted was further to the east closer to the city. Here is a few lightning stills.

After this thunderstorm moved through it looked as though another might develop in the same area with dark clouds brewing again however from memory I don’t believe another storm formed of the electrical variety.

Jason Tippet watchful as always out in Kaiapoi took a few photos of dark clouds near him however unfortunately the storm just didn’t manage to come overhead where he was.

Weather Maps

0000z 22/12/2004
0600z 22/12/2004