Showers mark start of wet Christmas

MetService issued a severe thunderstorm outlook last night.

Thunderstorms are expected in central areas of the North Island today, bringing heavy showers and hail.

Although the Nelson region should escape the worst of the storms, parts of Nelson and Marlborough could expect scattered heavy showers, and a moderate risk of isolated thunderstorms this afternoon.

The rainy spell looks set to mark the start of a period of mixed weather including an increasingly likely wet Christmas for the region.

Despite a relatively fine forecast for the weekend, the latest MetService data for the week ahead suggests a three-day run of rain on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

A front moved up from the South Island overnight and hit Wellington with rain showers this morning.

It was forecast to reach Hawke’s Bay by late morning and continue north, bringing a high risk of thunderstorms for inland areas from central Hawkes Bay and the Ruahine Range up to Gisborne and for eastern parts of Taupo and Bay of Plenty near the main ranges.

While Wellington would just be hit with ‘‘big, fat drops’’ of rain this morning, Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne could be expecting some hail, Metservice duty forecaster Liz Walsh said.There was a chance of brief, localised flooding, but ‘‘nothing major’’, she said.