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Communities cut off, power supplies disrupted as severe thunderstorms sweep through West Coast

Just under 100,000 lightning strikes have been recorded across the country as severe thunderstorms bring torrential rain and hail to the West Coast, cutting off a number of communities and causing slips and disrupting power supplies.

Source: 1 NEWS

State Highway 6 and infrastructure across the South Westland region has been affected following prolonged heavy rain this morning. SH6 has since been closed south of the Hokitika township at the Ruatapu intersection through Makarora after several slips appeared on the road.

Power is out at Fox Glacier and Westland Mayor Bruce Smith told 1 NEWS people in Haast, Fox, Franz and Harihari will need to fend for themselves for the time being until the road can be reopened.

NZTA might look at assessing the road again on Monday which means the highway could be closed for several days.

Mr Smith says there are quite a few tourists stuck in Franz Josef who may start to get anxious about their travel arrangements, but helicopter access should be possible later today and the forecast is good for the start of next week.

A large slip has also occurred on the Fox Hills, and a bridge near Te Taho are being assessed by Fulton Hogan after they were damaged from the heavy rain.

Motorists have been advised to consider their travel options and stay up to date on the status of the state highway.

Residents in Franz and Fox Glaciers have been advised to conserve water on public supply lines due to communications and power outages.

It comes after MetService detected severe thunderstorms near offshore Hokitika this morning. The thunderstorms are expected to move southeast, near Hokitika, offshore Hokitika, Ruatapu and Kokatahi at 8.45am, and near Lake Kaniere at around 9.15am.

A severe thunderstorm watch remains in place for Westland and Canterbury High Country.