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Friday night lights over central Australia

Craig McIntosh, Saturday October 6, 2018 - 13:23 EST

Lightning lit up the sky over parts of central Australia on Friday night and early Saturday as thunderstorms made their way east.

Earlier on Friday, a trough generated some severe thunderstorms over central and southern WA, particularly the Goldfields district. As the trough moved east throughout the night, thunderstorms brought electric skies to far eastern parts of WA, southwestern NT and northwestern SA.

The trough was drying up as it moved across the land, meaning most of the thunderstorms produced little to no rain. What did fall was likely to be mostly virga, evaporating before it reached the ground. Giles, located near the NT border in WA's Southern Interior district, only registered 0.8mm in the gauge as the storms passed.

As with most thunderstorms, however, strong wind gusts were being produced, and during Friday night a severe weather warning for damaging winds was issued for the Lasseter district of the NT.

The lightning stole the show, and between 5pm Friday and 5am Saturday, over 11,000 strikes were recorded in a 300km radius of Yulara, most of which were to the west and south. Of the more than 11,000 strikes, over 2000 were cloud-to-ground events.

The odd thunderstorm persisted until around mid-morning Saturday, mainly over northern SA, still with little-to-no-rain. Clearing skies will take over central Australia in the wake of the storms, but another trough could bring thunderstorms to a similar area later on Sunday and into Monday.

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