21 Mar 2022

Residents urged to shelter as storm passes through Northland, Auckland

9:19 am on 21 March 2022

Residents in Northland and Auckland have been urged to take shelter this morning as a severe thunderstorm travels down the North Island.

Fire service in attendance at Orewa College.

Fire service in attendance at Orewa College. Photo: RNZ/Rhonwyn Newson

MetService has issued a severe thunderstorm warning for the areas of Kaipara, Far North, Whangārei and Rodney.

A severe thunderstorm watch is already in force for Northland, Auckland, Great Barrier Island and the Coromandel Peninsula.

Several Auckland schools including Orewa College and Red Beach School have been forced to close this morning due to high surface flooding.

The National Emergency Management Agency is urging people to take shelter inside, away from windows as the weather hits early this morning.

Anyone on the water should return to land and loose objects should be secured.

Metservice meteorologist Kyle Lee told Morning Report in some areas as much as 80-90 millilitres of rain fell in just an hour.

He said the storm had made its way down the island passing through Waipu to Ahuroa before touching down in Waipu Cove and Orewa around 7.30am.

He said MetService would be re-evaluating their warnings and advice for residents as the storm rolled down the North Island.

Lee said the southern areas of Northland and the northern part of Auckland were at risk of potential tornadoes, although the risk was low.

"With those places being quite dry as well there should be quite a lot of surface flooding as well because a lot of the rainfall is just going to sort of go right off the surfaces there and not really soak in."

He urged those affected to stay up to date with the latest developments on the MetService rain radar.

The line of thunderstorms was first spotted offshore as it approached the Bay of Islands just after 1am this morning.

Overnight, Purerua, in Bay of Islands, recorded just over 100 millilitres of rain in two hours.

MetService meteorologist Jessie Owens said that was exceptional rain, and the hardest hit part of Northland.

Owen said most of the rain had cleared the Far North and was heading towards Auckland now.

Fire and Emergency said it had three flooding-related callouts in Auckland this morning.

A spokesperson said three properties in the suburb of Orewa, on the Hibiscus Coast, were affected by heavy rain in early hours of this morning.

A severe thunderstorm watch remains in force in the area.

WeatherWatch forecaster Philip Duncan told First Up tornadoes were possible in Auckland as thunderstorms and torrential rain lash the North Island this morning.

Severe weather warnings are in force for much of the upper North Island, people are being warned flash flooding and slips could be hazardous.

Duncan said wild winds could strike the so-called "tornado alley" of the north-western side of Auckland and the Waitematā Harbour.

He said forecasters spotted the potential for tornadoes in this weather event last week, which was unusual.