Flashes of orange lit up the Bay of Plenty skyline overnight in what some thought was White Island erupting.
The lightning storm was centred about 10km north-east of White Island in the Bay of Plenty.
A photo of a crater in White Island taken at 8am this morning. Photo: GeoNet.
SunLive received a number of calls to its 0800 SunLive news hotline from people who believed White Island was erupting.
GNS Science duty volcanologist Nico Fournier says they too received reports.
“As far as we can tell there was nothing particular happening at White Island.
“What’s happened though is that there were thunderstorms 10km north-east of White Island and there was a lot of lightning strikes.”
He believes what people saw was “all those lightning and dark clouds at the back of White Island, but it was not on the island it was much further out at sea”.
“The volcano is as normal. We double and triple checked and there is no indication that it was more active yesterday than what it has been. So we are pretty confident that is was just a combination of weather.”
This is the second time in three weeks lightning has been mistaken for volcanic activity.
An electrical storm was confused as volcanic activity at White Island on Friday, August 10.
MetService media and communications meteorologist Daniel Corbett says there has been an area of low pressure sitting to the east of the North Island.
He says there were some active storms on Monday with Wellington receiving hail.
“There was some hail down in the Waikato, very active day.”
On Tuesday the centre of the low, where the most unstable air is, was just drifting east and we had some storms pop up over the Waikato and also another one around the Gisborne rangers.
“Into the evening, from about 4pm-7pm a cluster of cells popped up and drifted across the central and eastern parts of the Bay of Plenty. This produced some isolated lightning and heavy downpours in places.
“The low is slowly moving off the country with just some left over spits of rain and maybe some thunder along the east coast.”
Daniel says there is a nice high pressure system sitting in the Tasman Sea working its way towards the country.