New Zealand is in for stormy weather over the next three days, with weather forecasters predicting possible small tornadoes.
A storm in the Southern Ocean is moving into the Tasman Sea and will cross New Zealand bringing the risk of thunder, gales and heavy rain.
Snow, hail and sunshine are also in the mixed-up forecast, according to WeatherWatch.co.nz.
Head weather analyst Philip Duncan says the chance of this system producing a tornado is high but stresses it may create only one or two across the entire country. "We have all the right ingredients for nasty squalls and heavy showers and with so much activity a couple of small tornadoes are likely around our more coastal regions in the west and north".
Mr Duncan says the system rolling in is similar to one that affected New Zealand in early July last year and produced a damaging tornado in Kapiti, along with other thunderstorms and strong winds across the country.
"While we feel quite confident this system has the potential to create a tornado it's very important to focus on the fact that much of the west coast of both main islands is rural farmland, national parks and bush. We may have one [tornado] and never know about it".
Mr Duncan says if people see a tornado the safest place is indoors in a small room. "Stay away from windows and don't listen to the myth of opening windows on the sheltered side of the house. Just get into a small room or closet until it passes".
WeatherWatch.co.nz says it's rare for a tornado to hit a home but in the past two years properties around the country have been damaged by them and one person was killed last May after a tornado ripped through a mall.
Today is due to be mostly warm, with strong winds from the west to north west to continue to affect parts of the country, especially central New Zealand and the North Island. During tomorrow and Wednesday the wind flow will shift more southerly and then very cold air will move in.
Snow is expected to settle to about 300 metres in the South Island tomorrow night and into Wednesday.
While snow currently isn't predicted for any of the main centres, WeatherWatch.co.nz says Dunedin's hill suburbs may get sleet overnight tomorrow and Queenstown will be borderline for snow.
Hail and cold winds will mostly affect the southern and western coastlines of New Zealand tomorrow and Wednesday, easing by Thursday. APNZ
This afternoon and into the evening severe thunderstorms are possible with gusts of 120 to 130 km/h and isolated tornadoes are possible, mainly in coastal areas.
A few of the storms may bring large hail, 20 to 30mm. Wind gusts of this strength can cause some structural damage, including trees and power lines, and may make driving hazardous.
If any tornados occur, they will only affect very localised areas. Large hail can cause significant damage to crops, orchards, vines, glasshouses and vehicles, as well as make driving conditions hazardous.
This watch affects people in the following weather forecast districts:
- Bay of Plenty
- Coromandel Peninsula
- Great Barrier Island