Periods of heavy rain with isolated thunderstorms and possible downpours is forecast for Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty today.

MetService has issued the region with a severe weather watch, with heavy rain expected to reach warning level from late morning until early evening.

Isolated thunderstorms and possible downpours were predicted mainly in inland areas from Opotiki westwards, with rainfall accumulations possibly reaching short duration warning criteria during 3pm to 9pm.

A moist northerly flow lies over the North Island and a trough within this flow extends from about Waikato through to Hawkes Bay, delivering rain and isolated thunderstorms.

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The weather watch is also in place for Waikato, Waitomo, Taumarunui, Taupo, Tongariro National Park, Taihape and Hawkes Bay.

People in these areas are advised to keep up to date with the latest forecasts in case parts of this Watch is upgraded to a full warning or new areas are added.