The loud thunderclaps and potent lightning bolts fascinated some – and terrified others.
Incredibly, some people slept right through all of nature's drama.
The phenomenon lit up the city from about 1am yesterday. The continuous flashes of lightning were a sight to behold.
However, the Port Elizabeth weather office said the storm had not been severe, although it had been classified as such by the SA Weather Service.
"This thunderstorm did, however, produce a large amount of lightning ... which does not occur frequently in Port Elizabeth," forecaster Tennielle Jacobs said.
She said the thunderstorm was caused by a surface trough, or low pressure system, over the central interior, together with an upper air trough which facilitated the storm's development.
Fayroush and Llewelyn Ludick, of Rowallan Park, were woken by the storm but children Caleb and Jamii slept through it.
"[The] lightning took out all our TVs, PlayStations and DStv. This is the first time we've experienced something like this. By the time we woke up, all the plugs had tripped," Fayroush said.
"The lightning must have hit our satellite dish, and then knocked everything out that was plugged into the same socket as our DStv."
Dineo Meyi, of Algoa Park, said the storm was the "scariest thing I've ever experienced".
"Sjoe! It was hectic. I was convinced the world was ending," she said. "My mom covered all the mirrors with blankets and unplugged the TV and radio.
"I jumped up to check on my brother, but crawled to his room. When I got to him, he was praying because he thought it was judgment day. We all sat together in my mom's room."
Tehillah Keller said on Facebook the storm had woken her. "I felt sorry for my bunny so I got up, braved the lightning and grabbed my bunny. To reward myself, I thought I would make myself a cup of coffee and 'poof', the power goes out."
Charles Adams said: "... How can something so scary be so beautiful!"
Jabulani Khumalo said he thought the end of the world was near when he was awoken by the thunder and lighting flashes.
Animal Anti-Cruelty League senior fieldworker Patsy Wagner said animals were generally petrified by storms and people should take their pets inside in bad weather.
Municipal spokesman Mthubanzi Mniki said the Chevrolet substation in the Bridgemead area had been hit by lightning, resulting in power outages in large parts of the city. "Staff are attending to restoration of supply to all areas."
Jacobs said severe thunderstorms were expected overnight over the eastern interior, moving towards the coast between East London and Port Edward.
They were expected in the western interior early tomorrow and in the eastern interior later. She said people should not shelter under trees or in isolated shacks.