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Published: 2011-10-03 00:00:00

Waikato Regional Council’s hazards and emergency management team is maintaining a watching brief after a severe thunderstorm warning from MetService which includes the Coromandel Peninsula and western Waikato and Waitomo districts.

Residents in those areas are urged to stay vigilant due to the prospect of squally winds gusts of 110 kilometres an hour or more and the risk of a damaging tornado, especially in eastern coastal areas.

MetService says squally winds and possible small tornadoes may cause some structural damage, including damage to trees and power lines, and make driving hazardous.

It says that if any tornadoes occur they will only affect very localised areas.

MetService advises residents to take shelter immediately if severe weather approaches or if they feel threatened.

The warning is valid till 7pm tonight.