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MetService’s massive marathon – exhausting, historic week of warnings


Ōtautahi – Weather forecasters across Aotearoa have had an exceptionally busy week, especially those tasked with the nation’s public official Warnings at MetService.

Their severe weather team just experienced one of their busiest weeks in history with a relentless barrage of extreme weather conditions, warnings and watches that spanned across the entire country. has spoken with the MetService team to get a run down on some of the stats.

It has been a massive event, and one of which where the duration and persistence of thunderstorms (especially in Wellington) was notable, WeatherWatch says.

Their team is tired, like running a marathon, but very pleased with how it turned out. They did very well. Ironically, a lightning strike struck its Westland radar, taking out some of the electronics.

For this week, there were 123,305 lightning strokes recorded, with 30,704 over land. Comparing to monthly totals of lightning, this would be enough to reach second place for monthly lightning recorded since records began in 2020.

Until this month the average amount of lightning recorded in June (2001 – 2021) was 15,466 strikes, with the highest month being June 2008 with 44,883 strokes.

For New Zealand’s land area, the average amount of June lightning recorded was 2081 strokes, with the highest being recorded in June 2002 with 6811 strokes.

Both the previously highest monthly totals for all lightning (over coastal waters and land) and that over land were exceeded in less than 24 hours during the most active phase of this event.

 So how did all this severe weather translate to weather warnings and watches?

The peak of the event saw 42 icons on the MetService weather map. Staff cannot remember seeing this number of warnings, usually 20 is a lot.

MetService has changed its watch system, adding swell and thunderstorms watches and warnings since 1992.

Certainly, those areas not in the firing line for rain and thunderstorms, saw wind – and the addition of snow warnings and swell warnings added to the number.

The exact total number of warnings and watches is yet to be tallied by MetService, but the past week was not only one for the record books, but it was an exhausting one for the severe weather team at MetService.