Storm, tornado warnings – flooding in Wellington, heavy rain in Auckland, snow in the south

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Meteorological authorities have issued severe thunderstorm warnings for the central and lower North Island and upper South Island as wild weather – including hail and possible tornadoes – is predicted for many parts of New Zealand today.

Emergency services in and around Wellington have been dealing with surface flooding this morning as much of New Zealand is under storm watch.

A spokesman for the central fire communication center said they were called to the Mana esplanade in Porirua to deal with the flooding. Motorists in Wellington are being warned of a number of closures, including Haywards Rd on State Highway 58 in Judgeford. Eastern Hutt Rd is also closed.

MetService issued a severe weather warning just before 6:30 a.m. saying it would affect the Kāpiti Coast, Upper Hutt City, Hutt City, Porirua, Wellington and South Wairarapa.

Residents are warned that as storms approach, they should take shelter — preferably indoors and away from windows — and move cars under cover or away from trees.

The National Emergency Management Agency also advises people to return to shore if they are outdoors or on water, secure loose items around homes, check drains and gutters are clear and be prepared to slow down or stop if they are on the road.

“During and after the storm, you should also be wary of fallen trees and power lines.”

Thunderstorms are possible in many parts of the country today with more rain forecast as an unstable northwesterly air current moves over New Zealand.

Auckland residents also woke up to heavy rain in the early hours of the morning. More showers – with the possibility of hail and thunder in the west – are expected this morning.

“Thunderstorms are expected to affect western portions of North Island from Waikato south through Thursday evening bringing very heavy localized rain, hail and gusty winds,” the MetService said.

“Between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. Thursday, there is a chance that a few of these thunderstorms will be severe south of Raglan, bringing rain with damaging wind gusts in excess of 110 mph, one or two small or damaging tornadoes. In addition, some of the thunderstorms could bring localized showers with intensities of 25 to 40 mm/h possible.”

Meanwhile, the Lindis Pass and Crown Range Road in the South Island are under snow watch from 7 a.m. to noon Thursday. The MetService said 1-2cm of snow could reach the tops of the roads this morning, with even more snow overnight tonight.

A severe thunderstorm watch also remains in effect for Nelson, Buller, Taranaki, Wanganui and Manawatū.

A weather warning has been issued for Westland, South Island, after MetService weather radar detected severe thunderstorms near offshore Hokitika.

Torrential rain, large hail and damaging wind gusts are expected, and tornadoes are possible.

MetService has warned that torrential rains could cause surface or flash flooding near streams, ravines and urban areas and make driving conditions extremely hazardous – while large hail could cause significant damage to crops, orchards, vineyards , greenhouses and vehicles.

Tornadoes could blow out windows, lift roofs, snap large tree branches, generate dangerous flying debris and blow vehicles off the road.

“Large hail can cause significant damage to crops, orchards, vineyards, greenhouses and vehicles, as well as make driving conditions unsafe,” the MetService said.

“Gusts of wind of this strength can cause structural damage, including to trees and power lines, and can make driving dangerous. If tornadoes do occur, they will only affect very localized areas.”

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