18 Jun 2018

Suspected tornadoes keep emergency services busy in Taranaki

5:38 pm on 18 June 2018

Suspected tornadoes and thundery hail storms have kept fire and emergency services busy in Taranaki today.

Area manager Dave Utumapu said heavy rain and hail caused the most of the problems early in the day and seven properties suffered some flood damage.

He said reports came in about 1.30pm of high winds and possible tornadoes touching down near Waitara in North Taranaki.

"There's been a little bit of a minor damage to some properties due to the strongs winds and possibly to be described as tornadoes, which is nothing new to the Taranaki area unfortunately."

Fire and emergency responded to 11 calls in total in what Mr Utumapu described as a normal but busy day.

Six crews were employed but no extra staff were required to be called in.

MetService issued a heavy rain warning and said between 70 and 100mm could accumulate on Mt Taranaki between now and 11pm, and up to 80mm elsewhere.

Peak intensities could reach between 25 and 40 mm an hour.

Meteorologist Mark Bowe said an area of low pressure over the Tasman Sea was moving eastwards across central New Zealand, bringing with it periods of thundery rain to the west of the North Island.

Mr Bowe said people needed to take extra care.

"So heavy rain can cause streams and rivers to rise rapidly so surface flooding and slips are possible, and of course driving conditions can be hazardous."

Mr Bowe said more than 500 lightning strikes had been recorded in Taranaki, mostly offshore.

On Tuesday a weak front moves up the South Island from the south, continuing the drizzle on the east coast of the island. Meanwhile, the low moves over the northern North Island, spreading the heaviest rain there.

A ridge spreads over the South Island on Wednesday, while easterlies associated with the low to the north of the country affect the North Island. This set up persists through to Thursday.