The Hunter Region is located to the north of Sydney. It includes Lake Macquarie, Newcastle and Nelson Bay in the east and extends inland to include Merriwa in the west. The region includes Karuah, Dungog and Murrurrundi in the north and Cooranbong and Cessnock in the south.
Events and Activities
Visit these events to meet your local NSW SES members and learn about Flood, Storm and Tsunami Safety.
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Historically Significant Storms
The Singleton Hailstorm of December 11, 1996
This storm struck from the south-west at 4.45pm. It brought very strong winds and large hailstones, some of them up to 7cm across, the hail falling continuously in some areas for more than 15 minutes. For the following hour there was heavy rain which caused flash flooding in many streets and damaged the interiors of houses by entering through holed roofs.
The storm caused damage to nearly 700 houses in Singleton itself and in nearby areas. One house to the north of the town was demolished by severe wind gusts. In addition the town’s hospital, a nursing home, churches, four schools, the local saleyards and numerous public buildings and commercial premises suffered damage as did grape, barley, lucerne and market garden crops outside the town. The hospital and the nursing home had to be evacuated and several cases of injury due to shattered windows were reported.
Most of the damage to buildings was on their southern sides. Very few buildings in the town suffered no damage at all. SES units from 49 council areas were involved in the initial response along with numerous Bush Fire Brigades and several Volunteer Rescue Association squads. Churches and other large buildings were given emergency covering within the first three days and all houses were covered by the end of the fourth day. Thereafter, for two months, there were callbacks to refix tarpaulins. The total economic cost of this storm has been estimated at $150M.
The Lower Hunter Wind and Rain Storms of June, 1998
Two separate east cost low pressure systems which formed off the New South Wales coast in June 1998 caused considerable damage especially in the lower Hunter Valley. Strong winds, some recorded at over 120 km/h, caused most of the problems in this area, but other parts of the state from the Namoi River valley to Bombala experienced associated heavy rainfall, snow and sleet. Many roads were closed and some flooding occurred.
The gale-force winds and heavy rain from the first of these systems lasted for several days. Well over 2500 calls for assistance were logged, the bulk relating to damaged houses in the Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Maitland and Port Stephens areas. Other storm damage was caused as far away as Tamworth, Kempsey and Queanbeyan, and parts of Sydney and Wollongong were also affected. SES assistance to the lower Hunter area was rendered from the upper Hunter, the mid-north coast, the Namoi valley and Sydney. In all, some 1500 SES volunteers were involved in the response.
Wide-scale weather events of this type are common in New South Wales especially in the winter months. They are often prolonged, as this event was, with high winds and heavy rain persisting for some days. Large trees are sometimes snapped or, if the soil is wet, blown over with serious structural damage being done to buildings and considerable areas being blacked out as a result of electrical wires being brought down. Damage is caused over much greater areas than is the case with thunderstorms. In some instances, gale-force winds occur along the whole New South Wales coast and areas to the west of the Great Dividing Range are affected as well.
On several occasions during the 1990s, similar storm activity caused damage throughout the suburbs of Sydney with thousands of calls for help being received in individual events. Responses can be made difficult and dangerous because of trees blocking roads and live power wires on the ground.