Severe thunderstorms and heavy rain could hit Tauranga this afternoon due to a combination of moist air, onshore winds and daytime heat over the area.

The weather warning was announced by MetService today for the Bay of Plenty region, as well as Rotorua and the Waikato.

MetService said any thunderstorms that did form were likely to be slow moving and severe and capable of producing 25 to 40mm of rain per hour.

"Rainfall of this intensity can cause flash flooding, especially about low-lying areas such as streams, rivers or narrow valleys, and may also lead to slips.

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"Driving conditions will also be hazardous with surface flooding and poor visibility in heavy rain."