In a moment, the Hawke's Bay's calm turned to a raging storm today bringing with it hail, lightning and heavy rain.

While most people sought refuge indoors, emergency services braved the wild conditions, tending to reports of flooding, and, in one case, a ceiling which had collapsed in on a Napier building.

Rolling clouds showed the beginning of the massive storm that hit Hawke's Bay overnight. Photo / Paul Taylor
Rolling clouds showed the beginning of the massive storm that hit Hawke's Bay overnight. Photo / Paul Taylor

St Vincent De Paul Opportunity Shop manager Richard Kelly-Lowe said water came flooding in "like a river" and caused the suspended ceiling to collapse under the pressure.

The Fire Service was called to the incident at 4.24pm, and one appliance attended. Kelly-Lowe said it was the first time during three years at the site on Carlyle St that this had happened.

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The room affected, fortunately, was a board room and didn't have any of the charity's stock, but does have electrical equipment.

Napier turned into a winter wonderland, with the streets covered with hail. Photo / Supplied.
Napier turned into a winter wonderland, with the streets covered with hail. Photo / Supplied.

Residents took to social media to share glimpses of the storm, from all angles.

Napier streets were coated with hail, while a lightning show stunned onlookers in Havelock North.

George Funari managed to take a photo of lightning behind a line of houses on Morse St, Marewa at 4.10pm.

Napier looked like a winter wonderland on Tuesday afternoon during the storm. Photo / Jake Hussey
Napier looked like a winter wonderland on Tuesday afternoon during the storm. Photo / Jake Hussey

The 14-year-old budding photographer said he used his phone to get the "right shot at the right time". "I just took it because there are hardly any thunderstorms," he said.

MetService meteorologist Tui McInnes said a low-pressure system over the country brought a barrage of miserable weather for parts of the country.

"The top of the South Island and bottom of the North are set to get the biggest hit, with Hawke's Bay right in the force of it," McInnes said.

Footprints in the hail. Photo / Shelley Smith
Footprints in the hail. Photo / Shelley Smith

Fellow meteorologist Nicole Ranger said the storm was just approaching Napier Airport at 4pm, with the last fragments of lightning felt in the region, just after 4.30pm.

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Between 14mm and 18mm fell from 4pm. And in the hour the temperature recorded at Napier Airport plummeted from 15C to 4C.

"It would have been a noticeable change in temperature for people," Ranger said.

She said there was a moderate risk for a large part of the country tomorrow. "It's just spring and things are very changeable and active.

Prepare for some fun: It could hail this evening across Hawke's Bay. Photo / File
Prepare for some fun: It could hail this evening across Hawke's Bay. Photo / File

MetService put in place a severe weather watch for the region overnight with strong westerly winds with gusts up to 100km/h hitting the region and hanging around till tomorrow evening.

They also put out a low-risk warning of severe lightning and thunder for the region as well as a road snowfall warning for the Napier-Taupo Rd (State Highway 5) with 1cm-2cm of snow on the road forecast near the summit.

McInnes said there would be a good few nights to stay in and cosy up.

"It will be a cool couple of nights so it might pay to get the extra blanket out and snuggle up because it will be a couple of wet cold nights."

The Fire Service said at 6.30pm that it was too busy to say how many weather-related callouts staff had attended.