Monday, March 4

Weather: Thunderstorms forecast for much of North Island, severe warning issued for Gisborne


Much of the North Island could see thunder and lightning on Sunday afternoon and evening. (File photo)

Tom Lee/Stuff

Much of the North Island could see thunder and lightning on Sunday afternoon and evening. (File photo)

Thunderstorms are forecast for much of the North Island, with severe downpours expected in Northland and Gisborne.

MetService has issued a severe thunderstorm watch for Northland between 4pm–9pm on Sunday. Scattered thunderstorms with localised heavy rain are expected to develop over inland and western parts Northland, south of Kaitaia, on Sunday afternoon and evening.

A few of the thunderstorms could be severe with localised downpours of 25-50mm an hour, MetService warns.

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A severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for Gisborne. At 06.52pm, MetService weather radar detected severe thunderstorms near Tolaga Bay and Tauwhareparae.

These severe thunderstorms are moving towards the north, and are expected to lie near Tolaga Bay, Tokomaru Bay and Hikuwai, Tauwhareparae at 07.22 pm and near Tokomaru Bay, Te Puia Springs, Ihungia, Hikuwai, Huiarua and Tauwhareparae at 07.52pm.

These thunderstorms are expected to be accompanied by torrential rain.

Rainfall of this intensity can cause surface 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, the national forecaster stated.

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The unsettled weather is due to a combination of light winds, a warm humid day, cooling temperatures aloft and a weakening front crossing the North Island, which should allow cloud buildups to produce scattered heavy showers and thunderstorms over many parts of the island.

Although the main risk of thunderstorms is about Northland, there’s also a chance central and eastern areas, from Bay of Plenty and eastern Waikato down to Hawke’s Bay, may see stormy weather later on Sunday. There’s also a low chance many other North Island areas could see thunderstorms as well.

It’s expected that any thunderstorms about inland Bay of Plenty and Rotorua, Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay, will be slow-moving. The thunderstorm activity is forecast die away later on Sunday evening.

Looking to the week ahead

On Monday, a heavy rain watch will be in place for Bay of Plenty, from about Kawerau eastwards, between 2am–5pm.

MetService states that a narrow band of heavy rain producing localised downpours is possible on Monday, mainly during the morning. The exact location of this narrow band of heavy rain is uncertain at this stage, but if it occurs, it could cause localised surface flooding, especially if it affects an urban area like Whakatāne.

A few thunderstorms are also possible offshore east of Gisborne and northern Hawke’s Bay during the morning.

On Tuesday, a front, preceded by strong northwesterlies, is forecast to move up the South Island while weakening, then move onto the North Island on Wednesday. It is followed by unsettled south to southeasterlies.

A ridge is forecast to build across much of the South Island later on Wednesday and remain there, bringing settled conditions through to Friday, while unsettled south to southeasterlies continue further north.

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