Thunderstorm over the Amuri Plains

Time: 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Location: Canterbury, New Zealand

  • Thunderstorm
  • ,
  • Lightning

There always seems to be some factor with thunderstorms that could possibly ruin the chances of storms happening, this could be anything from low cloud cover, high cloud cover, a southerly coming through too late, not enough surface moisture or not enough surface temperature for example.

On this day the main thing I was worried about was high cloud cover hindering afternoon temperatures from rising enough, the upper air wasn’t particularly cold (-14°C at 500mb) but there was good surface moisture. I knew there was a risk of thunderstorms happening somewhere in North Canterbury most likely but stayed at home till I was sure things looked good. A look at the nrfa website for this day when data came out around 2pm showed good temperatures in the Amuri basin, this was quite positive. A look at satellite images showed a band of high cloud over the South Island running north to south which was just west of Amuri, another good sign as it let the sun in.  I left a little bit later then I should have though, I think due to the trip we took to Springs Junction only 3 days before I was weary of going too far for not much perhaps but thinking about it I should’ve just shot off as soon as I saw development on the radar at 2pm! Oh well, I still got some good rumbles of thunder and saw some quite impressive Cg’s in the time I was out.

I left home about 2.50pm and headed pretty much the only way you can into North Canterbury, state highway 1 heading north! I was hoping to get into Amuri where this storm initially developed but didn’t end up going that far. I turned on the AM radio in the car south of Amberley and this storm was going nuts! Sferics going off constantly, while going through Amberley I saw a big Cg come out ahead of the storm which I don’t get to see to much with storms in Canterbury, my guess is big positive strikes! I got my video camera out and started recording, I didn’t see much till I got nearish Waipara when another big Cg came out of the cloud. Was awesome as I hadn’t really seen good lightning in quite a while!

I pulled over to the left down a side road and set up just south of Waipara. Took some photographs and heard some thunder, I wasn’t there to long as rain started falling 10 minutes later so I had to start moving back south again. While there though a big Cg went off which would’ve been only 1km away at the most, the sound of the thunder cracked big time and was wicked!! You can here and see it below in the video, at first I thought I just missed this lightning bolt on the video camera but while editing the clip for this report realised I’d just caught it!! Yikes is all I can say! The video stills for both strikes below, touched up a bit.

When the rain started to fall I headed south and got back to Amberley, I sat there for a while and heard a few more rumbles of thunder but that was it pretty much. The storm slowly lost it’s punch.

I met up with Steve in Saltwater Creek as he left strait after work but unfortunately he was too late by that stage, we thought the clouds looked promising at times but no more was to happen. A quick chase but the thunder was pretty cool!

I got a txt from a friend Richard who lives in the Amuri area at 4pm regarding the storm around 3pm, he said “Just had a massive storm, 47mm in 1 hour! But lightning hit our internet dish! Non stop thunder too!”. So it certainly must’ve been exciting times in Amuri that day!

Weather Maps

1800z 9/1/2012
0000z 9/1/2012
0600z 9/1/2012