Severe thunderstorms could bring very heavy rain, hail – MetService

By 1news.co.nz and is republished with permission

A number of severe thunderstorm watches have been issued for parts of the North and South Island today as snowfall closes alpine passes down south.

MetService said an active trough is forecast to pass quickly over the upper North Island on Sunday evening through early Monday morning.

This afternoon a severe thunderstorm warning was issued for the Wellington region.

“At 04:30 pm, MetService weather radar detected severe thunderstorms near OFFSHORE MANA ISLAND, WELLINGTON and WELLINGTON AIRPORT,” MetService said.

“These severe thunderstorms are moving towards the southeast, and are expected to lie near WELLINGTON, PORIRUA, OFFSHORE WELLINGTON SOUTH COAST, PALLISER BAY and BARING HEAD at 05:00 pm and near THE SOUTHERN REMUTAKA RANGE and PALLISER BAY at 05:30 pm.”

These thunderstorms are expected to be accompanied by very heavy rain and hail.

A West Coast thunderstorm warning that could have caused possible tornadoes was lifted by MetService around 4.30pm. Around the same time the rain radar showed heavy rain starting to move in over Northland.

There are also severe thunderstorm watches for Northland, Auckland, Coromandel Peninsula, and Bay of Plenty, and heavy rain watches for Bay of Plenty east of Whakatāne and Gisborne north of Ruatoria.

Auckland’s severe thunderstorm watch begins at 9pm tonight and lasts until 2am on Monday.

There is a moderate risk of these thunderstorms occurring, and whether these thunderstorms occur or not, MetService said there is a chance of localised downpours of 25-40mm an hour.

“Rainfall of this intensity can cause surface and/or 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.”

In the South Island, heavy snowfall has closed Lewis Pass and Arthur’s Pass.

An NZTA spokesperson urged motorists to delay travel through the alpine passes at this time.

“Snowplough trucks are working along both of these routes.”

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