Heavy hail pounds Wellington

Last updated 16:12 13/09/2011

Hail storm in Wellington

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Over 500 lightning strikes have hit Wellington as thunder and hail pelted the capital this afternoon leaving some residents without power.


Have you been affected by the hail? Send your photos, videos and news to newstips@stuff.co.nz

The storm had moved over to Wairarapa where the temperature had plunged to 2 degrees and snow was possible, MetService forecaster Stephen Glassey said.

Snow as deep as 15cm was expected on the high parts of the Desert Rd today.

581 lightning strikes - mostly around Wellington and the Cook Strait - had been recorded over two hours.

Weatherwatch.co.nz head weather analyst Philip Duncan described hail storms as leaving the ground white like snow around Wellington and said thunder rattled windows with some of the loudest thunder in years.

"Motorways and inner city streets are white following the dramatic hail storm.''

"The city went from a nor'wester and 12 degrees to a southerly and 4 degrees in around 30 minutes".

A Wellington Electricity spokesman said 900 homes in Eastbourne, Days Bay, and Evans Bay had lost power shortly before 2pm.

The outages were weather-related but the cause was not yet known.

Workers were trying to get power restored soon.

Police say two crashes had already been caused by the bad weather.

One was in the southbound lane of Ngauranga Gorge, and another on state highway one near the Aotea off ramp.

MetService forecaster Ian Gall said the bulk of the storm had left Wellington by 2pm.

"It is brief, short, sharp, and to the point," he said.

The southerly front had worked its way up the east coast of the South Island but gained power over the Cook Strait.

"It's just a surge in [the] southerly but came up with activity we hadn't anticipated," he said.

The front - with thunder, heavy rain, and gusts of up to 75kmh - was expected to leave Wellington within a couple of hours before moving to Wairarapa.

The front was expected to head out to sea after hitting Wairarapa this afternoon, missing most of Hawke's Bay.

Police central communications spokesman Marty Edghill said "marble-sized hail stones" were reported in central Wellington.

Gladstone Vineyard, Wairarapa, viticulturist Kyle Mason said if the hail came a week later it could have caused serious damage to new shoots.

However, vines were still dormant and no damage was expected if the hail reached over to Wairarapa.

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- The Dominion Post

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