Tauranga escaped the thunderstorms that drenched other areas of the Bay of Plenty with up to 37mm of rain yesterday afternoon.

Despite the severe thunderstorm watch issued by MetService earlier yesterday, only 1mm of rain fell at Tauranga Airport.

MetService duty forecaster Heath Gullery said there was still a risk of isolated showers, but nothing much.

''The thunderstorms that came through just missed Tauranga.''

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Unlike storms that came in from the sea, yesterday's thunderstorms originated over land - coming from the Waikato and over the Kaimai Range, to push across the Bay during yesterday afternoon.

Gullery said it was quite active from 2pm to 3pm, with 37mm falling in an area called Waipapa, west of Tauranga.

Most of the thunderstorms were inland rather than coastal, with the Bay's eastern ranges getting 17mm.

Today's forecast for Tauranga was for cloudy periods and isolated showers.

He said there was the chance of a thunderstorm or two east of Rotorua in the afternoon and evening.

Yesterday's heavy rain watch had been lifted for Northland, Auckland, the Coromandel Peninsula and all the Bay of Plenty.


Severe thunderstorm criteria
In New Zealand, MetService classifies a thunderstorm as severe if one or more of the following criteria are met:

Heavy rain (from thunderstorms):
Rainfall of 25mm per hour, or more.
Large hail:
Hailstones 20mm in diameter, or larger.
Strong wind gusts (from thunderstorms):
Gusts of 110km per hour / 60 knots or stronger.
Damaging tornadoes:
Fujita F1 (wind speeds greater than 116km per hour / 63 knots) or stronger.