Big storm brewing

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Severe thunderstorms, heavy rain and more are expected to hit Oamaru today.

Met Service media and communications meteorologist Daniel Corbett said the area is at high risk of severe thunderstorms this afternoon and evening, accompanied by heavy rain, large hail and the possibility of small tornadoes in the Otago-Canterbury regions.

“The combination of cooling temperatures in the upper atmosphere, onshore breezes and a southerly wind change are expected to make the eastern South Island very unstable on Wednesday afternoon and evening,” he said.

“Scattered heavy showers and thunderstorms are expected to develop from mid Canterbury to Otago in the afternoon

“Some of these thunderstorms are expected to be severe . . . producing localised downpours, large damaging hail, squally winds and possibly a small tornado.”

Waitaki District Council emergency services manager Chris Raine said this type of weather was relatively common for this time of year.

“At this time of the year you’re still getting the remnants of the spring-type weather patterns.”

Oamaru faced heavy rain and thunder storms on Monday night, but aside from some flash flooding on Thames St, there were no major issues, Mr Raine said.

But with severe storms predicted for today, safety was important, he said.

People should remember to take shelter and keep away from windows, he said.

They should also move cars under cover and away from trees, secure loose objects, ensure drains and gutters are clear and be ready to stop or slow down when driving, he said.

It was important to avoid trees, masts, tall buildings and metal fences due to the risk of them being hit by lightning, he said.

If a sickly smell, a prickly sensation, or both, were detected, people needed to get low on the ground.

“Get as low as you can because you’re now potentially becoming an antenna for a lightning bolt,” Mr Raine said.

People should also turn off appliances such as computers and avoid using landline phones, Mr Raine said.

After bad weather had passed, people should avoid fallen trees and power lines, as well as streams and drains, as people could be swept away in flash flooding, Mr Raine said.

By DAVID DE LOREAN