Outdoor Christmas festivities might have to wrap earlier than expected for parts of the North Island today after MetService has issued a severe thunderstorm warning.
MetService has placed a severe thunderstorm warning on areas near Whakatane, Taupo and Rotorua in the Central North at about 8pm tonight after detecting the storms near Broadlands.
A spokesperson said the severe storms are slow moving and are expected to lie near Reporoa and Broadlands at around 8.20pm this evening and near Murupara and Golden Springs at around 9pm.
These storms are expected to be accompanied by torrential rain and hail.
Torrential rain can cause surface and/or flash flooding about streams, gullies and urban areas, and make driving conditions extremely hazardous, MetService warns.
MetService also advised that hail can cause damage to crops, orchards and vines and may make driving conditions hazardous.
MetSevice is also advising that residents in these areas take shelter indoors away from windows, move any cars under cover or away from trees, check that drains and gutters are clear and get back to land if they are on the water.
Earlier, a MetService spokesperson said their radar has detected severe thunderstorms near Masterton, Carterton, Greytown, Gladstone and Longbush.
The storms headed southwest and were expected to lie near Masterton, Carterton, Martinborough, Greytown, Gladstone and Longbush at around 5.45pm this evening.
The warning has now been reduced to a watch, and is expected to last until 9pm this evening.
An earlier severe thunderstorm warning for Bay of Plenty, Taupo, Gisborne, Hawkes Bay, Taihape is still in place, and is also expected to be in place until 9pm tonight.
Scattered thunderstorms are still possible, with localised heavy rain and small hail. The downpours may reach up to 25-40mm/h.
There is also a chance of a small and very localised tornado in the area.