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Severe thunderstorms, possible tornadoes forecast for parts of Canterbury

A severe thunderstorm warning is in place for parts of Canterbury this afternoon with MetService warning of large hail, damaging winds gusts and possible tornadoes.

The severe thunderstorm warning is in place for Hurunui, Selwyn, Waimakariri and Christchurch city.

MetService's weather radar detected severe thunderstorms near Darfield, Oxford, Rangiora, Rolleston, Cust, West Melton, Kirwee, Mclean's Island, Eyrewell Forest, West Eyreton and Christchurch Airport.

The thunderstorms are expected to lie near Amberley, Rangiora, Kaiapoi, Leithfield, Ashley Forest, Cust, Woodend, Sefton and West Eyreton at 03.45pm, before heading near Amberley, Waipara, Weka Pass, Waikari, Pegasus Bay, Hawarden and Leithfield at 04.15pm, according to MetService.

Earlier today gumball-sized hail was seen falling in South Canterbury, and a funnel cloud sighted near Oamaru.

A very large hailstone which fell at Saint Andrews near Timaru. Source: Nikyta Wisniewski

Large hail can cause significant damage to crops, orchards, vines, glasshouses and vehicles, and make driving conditions hazardous.

Two very large hailstones which fell in Timaru. Source: Elyse Ackroyd

MetService warns strong wind gusts can break branches from trees, damage roofing, and make driving hazardous especially for high-sided vehicles and motorcycles.

Tornadoes can blow out windows, lift roofs, break large branches off trees, generate dangerous flying debris and blow vehicles off the road.

A severe thunderstorm watch remains in place for Christchurch, Canterbury Plains, Canterbury High Country, North Otago and Central Otago.