14 Nov 2011

Thunder, hail and rain hitting central North Island

6:26 pm on 14 November 2011

Several roads in Rotorua have been flooded as thunderstorms, accompanied by heavy rain and hail hit central parts of the North Island.

The flooding has caused some disruption to traffic.

Police say heavy rain and hail struck Rotorua at about 5 pm on Monday evening and flooding on Greenlake Road, of State Highway 5 in Wakarewarewa has closed it to traffic.

There is also surface flooding along Gordon Road and Devon Street.

The MetService has issued a severe thunderstorm warning for the whole of Bay of Plenty, with Rotorua residents among those likely to be affected.

It says the thunderstorms are expected to be accompanied by very heavy rain and large hail.

The warning is in force until 6.45 tonight.

Other areas north of Taupo and east of Rotorua have already been affected by the thunder, hail and rain, with hail stones as big as two centimetres in diameter reported in some places.

Forecaster Chris Noble says more than 1100 lightning strikes were recorded between midday and about 4.30 pm in the afternoon.

He says the rain radar showed between 25 to 40 millimetres of rain has been falling every hour - enough to cause flash flooding.