Stormy Weather

While the Wellington region is known for its often very windy conditions its less known for thunderstorms. Further, most of the lightening and thunder that does occur seems to be above the Hutt Valley and over in the Wairarapa. I like a good thunderstorm, and perhaps have a naive view that these events are exciting rather than potentially dangerous. Those rare thunderstorms that come through Porirua tend (in our decade or so or experience) come around at night which makes photography difficult. Photographing a storm effectively is difficult, and can be dangerous. Standing outside in the dark with a violent storm bearing down is not my idea of fun.
In the last year we’ve now had two storms come through or near Porirua, during daylight hours and at a time where I could get out with my camera and tripod (i.e. I wasn’t working, or having to be elsewhere to support afterschool activites). The first was in March 2022 and on the Metservice rain radar I could be a large cloudmass heading south from the Kapiti Coast directly towards Porirua. Even better, I could just walk out the front door to get photos. The lightning was only occasional but sounded impressive. I should have walked a bit further to get a more elevated view, but that does come with its own risks!

A storm front approaches Porirua from the north, March 2022

More recently there has been some wild weather this summer around New Zealand. Auckland, Northland and the Coromandel have been hit hard by intense weather over the past month, with more to come. Greater Wellington has so far avoided the extreme weather but we did have some intense storm cells passing through the region yesterday. Again on the rain radar I could see some heavy rain slowly coming down the Kapiti Coast so I set off to the lookout on the Paekakariki Hill Road to see if there was a chance for a photo.

Arriving at the lookout there were only a few people present taking in the view and they didn’t stick around. To the north the sky was a dark grey and in the distance it looked to be raining. Over the next 30 minutes the storm got closer, a curtain of rain slowly obscuring Waikanae and Kapiti Island. Iinitially I could hear thunder but not see lightning, but after a while the bolts were firing at the leading edge of the storm. I took hundreds of photos and of the five lightning bolts I saw I managed to catch one on camera. Some of the thunder was incredibly load, one particular retort seeming to echo off Kapiti Island, screeching rather than booming. I’d decided that when the line of rain got to the northern extent of Paekakariki I would head home, not wanting to be in such an elevated position with lightning nearby. This storm subsequently bypassed Porirua, so I’m glad I took the initiative to get closer.

Lightning at the leading edge of a storm on the Kapiti Coast, January 2023

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One thought on “Stormy Weather

  1. One of my favourites of your bajillion photos. Amazing, well done with foresight, patience, eye, skill, and a healthy dash of madness.

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