Severe thunderstorm warning as heavy rains hit North Island

The rain radar shows the downpour moving over the North Island, with the heaviest falls in red.

The rain radar shows the downpour moving over the North Island, with the heaviest falls in red.

MetService has issued a severe thunderstorm watch as heavy rain sweeps across the North Island.

Auckland was soaked with a burst of rain that started at about 4.30pm on Saturday.

The heavy rain knocked out power to around 1600 homes in the city.

Outages in Sunnyvale after a feeder fault blacked out 1400 houses from 7.30pm, while another fault cut power to around 180 homes in Kaukapakapa north of Helensville.

READ MORE: Power outage leaves 1000 homes in dark in Auckland

Shortly before midnight 960 households remained without power. 

Lines company Vector estimated they would have power restored by Sunday morning.

MetService said there was a risk of severe thunderstorms in southwestern Northland, Auckland, southern Coromandel, Waikato, Waitomo, northern Taumarunui, northern Taupo, Bay of Plenty and Rotorua on Saturday night through until Sunday morning.

MetService's rain radar showed heavy falls hitting the New Plymouth area and moving inland towards Whanganui National Park.

Thunderstorms were forecast to hit parts of Waitomo, Taumarunui, western Taupo and northern Taranaki on Saturday night or early Sunday.

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MetService said the rainfall in those areas could include bursts of 25 to 40mm per hour.

A severe weather watch was in place for Auckland, Waikato, Waitomo, Coromandel Peninsula, Bay of Plenty, Taihape, Taumarunui, Taupo and Taranaki.

The sodden weather has been brought by a very moist tropical air mass moving onto the North Island from the northwest.

It created a particularly muggy feel across Auckland, meteorologist Emma Blades said.

"Overnight the temperature won't drop to below 20 degrees so it's going to be a really, really sticky night," she said.

"It's unusually muggy for February to see these levels of moisture."

There was still uncertainty regarding the timing and exact location of severe outbursts. 

However, there was a risk that rainfall amounts could be greater than 50mm within six hours, especially in north Taranaki, Waitomo and Taumarunui.

Localised downpours could also cause surface flooding from Waikato to North Taranaki.

Coromandel and eastern Bay of Plenty were more likely to see heavy rainfalls on Sunday.

People in these areas should be on the lookout for threatening weather and listen for possible weather warnings, MetService warned.

 - Stuff

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