North Island battens down for major storm

Wellington weather (Getty)
Wellington weather (Getty)

North Island residents are being warned to brace for thunder, powerful winds and possibly small tornadoes as a storm looms.

MetService has issued a severe weather watch for much of the North Island, and warns damaging gales could strike Northland, Auckland, the Coromandel Peninsula, north Waikato and parts of the Bay of Plenty late on Thursday.

Gusts of up to 110km/h are expected in some areas and thunderstorms may hit the west coast of the North Island from New Plymouth upwards.

Large hail is also a possibility in the region, and rainfall of up to 20mm an hour is predicted in the afternoon.

Auckland Council's head of emergency operations, Aaron Davis, said it was difficult to say where exactly the worst of the weather was likely to hit.

"The weather system coming through is likely to be intense and have high impact in localised areas," he said.

"This makes it difficult for us to assess which parts of the region will be hit the hardest, so it's important that everyone is prepared."

Auckland Civil Defence has warned of possible slips and flooding.

NZN / Newshub.