Severe weather warning issued

Large swathes of the North Island are being hit by thunderstorm this afternoon with warnings of heavy rain, slips and flash flooding.

The MetService is warning people to take immediate shelter if they feel threatened.

Forecasters have issued a severe thunderstorm watch for Waikato, Waitomo, Taumarunui, Taupo, Hawkes Bay, Taranaki, Taihape, Wanganui, Manawatu and Tararua.

"Scattered thunderstorms have developed this afternoon over the central and southern North Island, as well as the northern South Island," forecaster John Crouch said.

"These thunderstorms are producing localised heavy rain, with rainfall rates mostly in the 10-25mm/hr range."

He warned a few of the thunderstorms could become severe this evening, around inland North Island from Waitomo and Taumarunui through inland Wanganui and Taihape to northern Manawatu and the Ruahine ranges, with localised downpours producing rainfall rates of 25-40mm/hr.

"Rainfall of this intensity can cause flash flooding, especially about low-lying areas such as streams, rivers or narrow valleys, and may also lead to slips.

"Driving conditions will also be hazardous with surface flooding and poor visibility in heavy rain."

The MetService is warning anyone who feels threatened as the severe weather approaches to take immediate shelter.

- By Lane Nichols of APNZ

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