Severe thunderstorm warnings are in place for southern regions of the North Island.

Metservice is warning people in Tararua, Palmerston North City and Manawatu to prepare to batten down the hatches.

"At 12:45 pm, MetService weather radar detected severe thunderstorms near Palmerston North, The Manawatu Gorge and Ashurst."

These thunderstorms are moving towards the east-southeast, and are expected to lie near
Pahiatua, Woodville and The Manawatu Gorge at 1.15pm, and near Pahiatua and Kumeroa at 1.45pm.

These thunderstorms are expected to be accompanied by very heavy rain, Metservice said.

"Very heavy rain can cause surface and/or flash flooding about streams, gullies and urban areas, and make driving conditions extremely hazardous."

A Severe Thunderstorm Watch remains in force for Hawkes Bay, Taihape, Wanganui, Manawatu and Tararua.

The Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management advises that as storms approach people should:
• ​Take shelter, preferably indoors away from windows;
• ​Avoid sheltering under trees, if outside;
• ​Move cars under cover or away from trees;
• ​Secure any loose objects around your property;
• ​Check that drains and gutters are clear;
• ​Be ready to slow down or stop, if driving.

During and after the storm, people should also:
• ​Beware of fallen trees and power lines;
• ​Avoid streams and drains as you may be swept away in flash flooding.