MARINE police spent last night searching waters off the Central Coast for two men, aged in their 40s, who failed to return from a fishing trip at Norah Head.
A Tuggerah Lakes police spokesman said the pair alerted Norah Head Search and Rescue that they were heading for Bird Island Nature Reserve in a three-metre dinghy about 10am.
Police began a search when the men had not returned by 5pm on Sunday.
A vehicle and trailer found in a car park off Bald Street belonged to one of the men.
In fading light, a Westpac rescue helicopter was able to complete one pass of the area before returning to base.
One man, 43, from Sydney, had been staying at a hotel near Norah Head for the past month.
The other man was described as being middle-aged and of Asian appearance.
Police said a helicopter would continue the search at first light while Marine Area Command would search during the night.
Conditions were too rough for police to deploy Norah Head Search and Rescue boats.
Meanwhile, heavy rain, gale-force winds and big swells lashed the Hunter yesterday, bringing down trees, cutting power to homes and causing drama on the road.
The Bureau of Meteorology issued a severe weather warning early yesterday, identifying a low-pressure trough that was intensifying off the NSW coastline.
Strong winds of about 65km/h with peak gusts of 90km/h hit coastal suburbs of the Hunter while more than 28millimetres of rain had fallen at Murrurundi in the Upper Hunter by midday.
A woman, 20, suffered multiple lower leg fractures after she crashed her vehicle at Tea Gardens about midday yesterday.
Westpac flew her to John Hunter Hospital.
She was in a stable condition.
Ausgrid crews were last night working to get power back to about 1900 homes at Corlette and Nelson Bay. Crews also spent two hours restoring power to about 600 homes in Sparks Road at Warnervale.
State Emergency Services responded to about a dozen calls for assistance in the Hunter.
Surf Life Saving NSW warned rock fishermen to avoid the open coastline for a few days.
The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting scattered showers near the coastal fringe today, with southerly winds ranging between 25km/h and 40km/h.