Skies open after stunning sunset to deal damage in Port Stephens

Delighful colours and a trail of destruction poured out of Hunter skies on Saturday, leaving emergency crews with a huge workload and photographers with stunning memories. 

The spectacular skies marked twilight on Saturday, giving residents across Newcastle a glimpse of red, vanilla and grey skies in a kaleidoscope of a sunset. 

But the arresting visuals also brought severe weather over Port Stephens, which was lashed with winds, rain and hail that left the State Emergency Service scrambling into Sunday morning. 

Hail and heavy storm cells raked over Anna Bay and Nelson Bay, leaving the Tomaree unit of the State Emergency Service dealing with more than 100 jobs at 8am on Sunday. 

An SES spokeswoman said the majority of those jobs were roof damage. 

The spokeswoman said Hunter-wide there had been 125 requests for assistance since the Bureau of Meteorology issued its severe weather warning on Saturday afternoon. 

103 of them were in Port Stephens. By the end of Sunday, SES crews had received 170 calls for assistance.

Images of the storm and sunset had many reaching for their cameras despite the power of the conditions. 

Daniel Ennis recorded footage of hail battering the road at the Shoal Bay Country Club about 6pm on Saturday, while Peter Dousling said every car in Donald Street at Nelson Bay suffered hail damage. 

Salamander Bay resident Judi Bot-Wessler said she was expecting a storm, but what they received was “insane”.

“We were throwing snowballs with [the hail],” Ms Bot-Wessler said in jest, referring to the amount of hail that fell making it look like snow.

Strong winds also left streets blanketed in leaves and debris on Sunday, when the gusts were easing.   

Despite its fury, the storm delivered little rainfall. Bureau of Meteorology figures on Sunday showed Nelson Bay recorded just 10mm of rain in the 24 hours to 9am on Sunday.

Footage of the falls shows the hard ice pellets smashing against the road surface. 

Showers are expected to return for coastal Hunter areas throughout this week. Newcastle will gain a sunny Monday with a high of 27 degrees before the mercury drops slightly and showers extend towards Saturday. The rain will peter out inland towards Wallsend, with only a handful of showers expected in Maitland. 

The Bureau of Meteorology predicts Singleton, Muswellbrook and Scone will stay dry until at least Friday.

Temperatures across the region are slated to stick in the 20s, continuing the warm autumn conditions for days to come. 

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