Thunder, rain likely for central NI

Last updated 11:53 24/03/2014

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The parched central North Island could see thunderstorms this afternoon, bringing heavy rain and the chance of hail.

Afternoon heat could "bubble up" into the upper atmosphere, building storm clouds in the Waikato and Central Plateau regions, MetService meteorologist Dan Corbett said.

"It's a good chance of rain for some of these places."

The storms would likely move north-east after forming, hitting the Bay of Plenty and Gisborne ranges, and possibly Auckland and the Coromandel, he said. Taranaki might also see some thunder, lightning and rain, before the thunderstorms died out during the evening.

Soils in parts of Waikato, Gisborne and Taranaki currently needed over 100mm of rain to be at peak moisture capacity, National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research data showed.

But today's forecast was not universal good news for farmers with moisture-starved pastures, Mr Corbett said.

"They're not mean-and-nasties...they'll be more hit-and-miss as opposed to a widespread swathe where everyone's going to get soaked.

"But there's a good chance of showers, some of them heavy in places."

Localised heavy rain of up to 25mm per hour was a possibility, as was hail of up to 15mm in diameter, from Auckland to down to Taranaki and across to Gisborne.

Meanwhile, the capital had a day of sunshine ahead of it, Mr Corbett said. The lower North Island would miss out on the thunderstorm action today - though possibly not for long.

"We do have a nice southerly change later tomorrow, which could even bring the risk for the odd clap of thunder here in Wellington tomorrow evening."

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- The Dominion Post

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