Thunderstorms, hail and tornado risk as North Island braces for stormy start to week

The top half of the country is bracing for a day laced with thunderstorms, hail and even tornadoes, with eastern regions set to be deluged.

A heavy rain warning and watch for eastern regions has been issued as MetService warns of a volatile start to the week with a large swathe of the North Island to be battered by thunderstorms today.

MetService says heavy showers and thunderstorms are expected to affect the northern half of the North Island, with a moderate risk of thunderstorms north of Taupō hitting after lunch.

And the forecaster is warning the thunderstorms would bring localised heavy rain and hail, along with a low risk of one or two small tornadoes.

Eastern regions from south of Gisborne to the Tararua district are in for a wet 24 hours, with people told to brace for torrential downpours during thunderstorms.

A heavy rain warning and watch has been issued. MetService is warning up to 140mm is expected to fall today with up to 140mm of rain in the ranges.

The heaviest falls would occur from late morning until evening where intense deluges were forecast which could lead to rapidly rising streams and rivers. Flash flooding and slips were also possible and motorists are being warned driving conditions might prove extremely hazardous.

The wet weather is expected to move slowly east towards the Bay of Plenty on Tuesday before fine weather returns on Wednesday.

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