MetService has issued a thunderstorm watch for Rotorua and the Bay of Plenty this afternoon.

Scattered heavy showers and a few thunderstorms have developed over eastern Bay of Plenty and Rotorua this afternoon and these are expected to spread through the remainder of Bay of Plenty and into eastern Waikato in the late afternoon and evening.

West of Whakatane, Rotorua, and eastern Waikato, mainly near the Kaimai and Mamaku ranges, there is a risk of a few severe thunderstorms producing localised downpours of 25-35mm/hr through to about 9pm tonight.

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

A severe thunderstorm watch means conditions are favourable for severe thunderstorms in and close to the watch area. People in these areas should be on the lookout for threatening weather conditions and listen for possible severe thunderstorm warnings.