Severe thunderstorms and flooding hits North Island

Severe thunderstorms are battering parts of the upper North Island with Hamilton residents reporting heavy rainfall and flooding.

Metservice says the Thunderstorms are due to a very humid and unstable northwest airstream that lies over the North Island.

A Fresh severe thunderstorm warning was issued at 4:49pm for the Bay of Plenty Radar area including; South Waikato, Waipa, Taupo, Otorohanga, Rotorua, Opotiki, and Whakatane and has not yet been lifted.

Metservice says these thunderstorms are likely to cause surface and flash flooding around streams, gullies and urban areas as well as making driving conditions "extremely hazardous."

Flooding predictions have proved correct in Hamilton where a stream of rainwater has flooded River Rd resident Pam Reid's driveway, gushing alongside her house. 

Those in areas with a severe thunderstorm warning in place should take shelter indoors, move cars undercover, secure any objects around their property, ensure drains and gutters are clear and be ready to slow down or stop if driving.

During and after the storm residents should avoid streams and drains due to the possibility of flash flooding and beware of fallen trees and powerlines. 

Severe thunderstorm watches are in place for Great Barrier Island, Coromandel Peninsula, Waikato, Waitomo, Taumarunui, Bay of Plenty, Rotorua, Taupo, Gisborne, Hawkes Bay, and Taihape until 10pm Thursday.

Metservice Meteorologist Ashlee Parkes says for those living in these areas "it is best to keep up to date with the forecasts and take extra care when venturing outside,"

Northland and Auckland also had a severe thunderstorm watch in place for most of the day, the threat period lifted at 5pm. 

NIWA said the North Island experienced about 1500 lightning strikes over the day with Auckland and Northland now past the worst of the weather.