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Lightning strikes twice and now it’s Auckland’s turn

December 5, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

A week after howling winds and torrential rain closed runways at Sydney Airport, an apocalyptic thunderstorm bringing 130 lightning strikes in five minutes slammed into Auckland, disrupting travel to and from New Zealand’s prime international gateway, Auckland Airport.

Air New Zealand advised a running series of delays and cancellations, with several planes in and around Auckland Airport suspected to have been struck by bolts of lightning.

“A number of departures have been delayed or cancelled as a result of several aircraft requiring engineering inspections due to possible lightning strikes,” the New Zealand carrier said yesterday.

“Additional engineers are being deployed and will work through this as quickly as possible”.

Meanwhile, on a farm near Auckland, a dairy farmer was horrified to find several of his cows lying dead, killed by one of the lightning bolts.

The clip below gives his reaction. Warning: the farmer uses some strong language.

Below, another Aucklander reveals her alarming reaction as a lightning bolt struck the ground very close to her.

“I shat myself… it was so close,” resident Amy Buncuga confided to the New Zealand Herald.

Back at the airport, Air New Zealand explained that “gate availability is causing delays to arriving aircraft and ground staff who load and unload aircraft are required to stop activity on the tarmac when lightning is in the vicinity” .

Air New Zealand chief operational integrity standards officer, Captain David Morgan, said that while aircraft were insulated and designed to withstand lightning strikes, they must be inspected before they could depart.

“While we regret the disruption to our customers, safety must come first and we ask customers to bear with us today as we manage through the effects of the weather and carry out these inspections.”

“Our team is doing everything possible to get our customers to their destinations however due to the uncontrollable nature of the weather and expected flow-on effects customers should consider whether or not they need to travel today,” Morgan said.

Customers were advised to consider deferring any non-urgent travel.

Written by Peter Needham

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