6 Oct 2016

Upper North Island lashed by thunderstorms

10:02 pm on 6 October 2016

The first wave of thunderstorms predicted overnight has hit Northland, with hundreds of lightning strikes reported north of Auckland.

A severe thunderstorm watch is in place for Northland, Auckland, Great Barrier Island, the Coromandel, Waikato and Waitomo.

Lightning strikes over Auckland this morning.

A file photo shows lightning strikes over Auckland last Sunday. Photo: Supplied/ Jo Ottey Photography

MetService is warning locals to expect heavy rain and strong wind gusts that could topple trees.

Shortly before 9pm, MetService said there had been at least 400 lightning strikes north of Auckland in the past hour and many more were due as the storm bedded in over the west of the North Island.

There were also predictions for hailstones as big as 2cm to fall, it said.

Heavy downpours began in Auckland about 7.30pm.

The rain was likely to fall in short heavy bursts of 10 to 25mm an hour in localised spots.

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MetService's rain radar shows the first band of thunderstorms hitting just after 7.30pm. Photo: Metservice

Earlier today, MetService forecaster Tom Adams said there was some "quite unpleasant weather coming through" .

The agency's thunderstorm outlook warned of "frequent heavy showers" and "squally thunderstorms", and had earlier said small tornadoes were possible.

The weather was expected to ease later tomorrow.

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