Drenching rain fell across parts of the Hunter Thursday afternoon as an inland storm cell moved across much of the state toward the coast, but as Hunter Water storage levels continue to decline it is unlikely the rain will delay tightening water restrictions on Monday.
It took just 36 minutes to douse Tomago with around 71 millimetres in a sudden downpour just before 2pm. The Barrington Tops, similarly soaked with 54 millimetres in an hour, were issued with a severe thunderstorm warning for possible flash flooding just after 1pm. But showers remained light and patchy over the Newcastle harbour into the late afternoon.
State Emergency Service crews were called to 20 storm-related incidents at Port Stephens and a further four in Newcastle, to address minor flooding, water leaks and fallen trees and branches, but no injuries were reported.
Ausgrid emergency crews were working to restore power to more than 10,000 homes and businesses in parts of Newcastle, Port Stephens and Maitland after the storm passed. Power was restored to Cardiff, Elermore Vale and pockets of surrounding areas Thursday afternoon, however parts of Raymond Terrace, Woodberry, Mayfield, Tighes Hill, Waratah and Swan Bay were still without power around 5.30pm.
A large tree fell onto powerlines at Heatherbrae, prompting Ausgrid to warn residents to avoid fallen lines and storm debris.
Customers were without power for several hours after the storm passed as technicians worked to repair the grid into the evening.
A deepening trough pulling humid air across the state will likely mean the more rain into the next week, possibly shifting from patchy showers to a more continuous rain event as a cold front moves across northeast NSW, forecasters for the Bureau of Meteorology said.
But, Hunter Water stores - which include Grahamstown and Chichester dams, and Tomago and Anna Bay sandbeds - continued to fall, dipping a combined 0.1 per cent Thursday and 0.8 per cent in the past week, to 52.9 percent Thursday evening.
Though forecasts are for continued rain over the next four days, before a return to sunny conditions on Tuesday, the showers are not likely to break prolonged dry conditions.
Level two water restrictions, which include limiting outdoor watering to 15 minutes every other day and prompting large scale customers to implement water efficiency management plans, will begin on Monday.
If conditions continue, Hunter customers could face level three restrictions, banning all outdoor water use, in June. Forecasts were for up to 25 millimetres in Newcastle on Friday.
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