Lightning storm cancels flights as flash flooding engulfs Auckland

Thunderstorms, heavy rain and lightning has caused flooding across Auckland and led to flight cancellations.

The lightning storm on Monday afternoon impacted a number of flights, an Air New Zealand spokesperson said.

“Our teams will be doing their best to reaccommodate customers on alternative services once the weather clears.”

A deluge hit the city mid-afternoon causing “significant flooding” and an off-ramp on State Highway 1 near Mt Wellington is closed due to the water, police said.

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Left lanes are also blocked on Penrose Rd on SH1, and drivers should expect delays.

Police Inspector Jason Homan said contractors were working to clear flooding on the motorways and that drivers should be extremely careful when passing crews.

“Following too close to the person in-front of you or attempting to overtake in risky situations is a recipe for disaster,” Homan said.

A council rain gauge in Ōtāhuhu recorded 50mm of rainfall in just an hour on Monday.

“That’s definitely in the torrential rainfall category,” MetService said in a tweet.

Earlier on Monday, MetService issued a severe thunderstorm watch for areas north of Taumaranui from 2pm until 9pm on Monday.

The warning said scattered thunderstorms are expected to bring localized heavy rain and hail to parts of the central and northern North Island.

Heavy rains came suddenly and all at once across Auckland.

LAWRENCE SMITH/Stuff

Heavy rains came suddenly and all at once across Auckland.

MetService meteorologist April Clark said while the thunderstorms would be “very localised”, they could also pose a threat to those who were unprepared, as they could bring lightning strikes, flash flooding and a low risk of tornadoes.

Driving conditions could also become hazardous with surface flooding and poor visibility in heavy rain, she said.

Auckland Councillor Josephine Bartley shared video of the downpour and flooding in Ōtāhuhu

The annual Boxing Day Western Springs Speedway meet had to be postponed until December 27 after rain soaked the racetrack.

Promoter Bruce Robertson said the international meet was meant to draw between 8000 and 10,000 guests, but he hoped the same crowd would come tomorrow.

The race day would feature Taylor Reimer in New Zealand from Tusla, the first woman to win a national midget car feature event in the United States.

Boxing Day beach goers in Auckland's Mission Bay shelter from the afternoon thunderstorms.

LAWRENCE SMITH/Stuff

Boxing Day beach goers in Auckland’s Mission Bay shelter from the afternoon thunderstorms.

For those in most parts of the country who avoid downpours, the temperature will hover around the mid-20s, with a cool breeze coming through later in the day.

Tuesday should see a drop in temperature by as much as 10 degrees in Canterbury, although it should heat up again by Wednesday.

Christmas Day saw police turning revelers away from Auckland’s Long Bay after the beach was filled to capacity.

Although an Auckland Council spokesperson said, by late morning on Boxing Day, Long Bay and other regional parks had not yet been over-run.

Auckland Council Manager Regional Parks Scott De Silva said after a “busy Christmas Day” there was a “slight drop” in numbers at beaches across the region on Boxing Day.

The large crowds at Long Bay in particular saw police return on Boxing Day to pre-empt another busy day, however with reduced numbers they soon left,” De Silva said.

“Given the activity on Christmas Day and with the weather forecast looking good, we’re expecting more crowds over summer at hot spots such as Shakespear, Long Bay and Muriwai.”

Police have also asked that visitors drinking alcohol avoid swimming.

“Alcohol and water don’t mix and can have fatal consequences,” a spokesperson said.

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