Severe weather warning issued

Heavy rain and strong wind has sparked a severe weather watch for the top and east of the North Island.

The MetService watch is in place for Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Rotorua and Gisborne.

Flooding has already hit Northland today, with police warning motorists to take extreme care if travelling along State Highway 10, Kaeo, between Whangaroa and Omaunu Roads.

At this stage SH10 was still open but the flooding had almost blocked one lane, police said.

Strong gusts on the Kaimai Range blew a school bus over this morning, injuring the driver and a child, Radio New Zealand reported.

The bus was pushed off Old Te Aroha Road by the wind, known as the Kaimai Buster, which was unique to the area and affected a strip of land close to the range.

MetService said a slow-moving front was lying over the northern end of the country today and would remain for tomorrow.

Downpours in Auckland north of Orewa and the western Bay of Plenty were forecast for today and early tomorrow, and for the ranges of Gisborne from Tolaga Bay southwards tomorrow.

A heavy rain warning was in place for the ranges of Gisborne north of Tolaga Bay, MetService said.

Heavy rain was also falling in the Coromandel Peninsula, where another 60-80mm of rain is expected until early tomorrow.

The rain should then spread onto northern parts of Gisborne, where 150mm of rain was expected through to tomorrow night.

"People in these areas are advised streams and rivers may rise rapidly, slips and surface flooding are possible," MetService said.

Severe easterly gales were expected to wallop exposed parts of Northland today and in exposed parts of Waikato today and tomorrow.

Auckland and areas west of the Coromandel and Kaimai Range were now on a strong wind warning, with gusts of up to 120km/h forecast, MetService said.

"Winds of this strength have the potential to topple trees and powerlines, damage unsecured structures and making driving hazardous."

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