The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) is forecasting intense rain, possible life-threatening flooding and gusty conditions for the Mid North Coast and parts of the Hunter in the coming days.
The focus of heavy rain during the next 12 hours is expected to shift to the Hunter region Friday night or early Saturday morning.
A marine wind warning is in place for the Macquarie Coast and Hunter Coast, with gale-force winds up to 90km per hour predicted for Friday and Saturday.
A hazardous surf warning has also been issued for the region, with NSW Police Force Marine Area Command advising people should consider staying out of the water and avoid walking near surf-exposed areas across the weekend.
SES City of Newcastle acting unit commander Graeme Silver said he and his unit were preparing for the worst, with “all hands on deck”.
“We’re expecting a busy weekend after the weather hits us today,” he said.
“We dealt with more than 50 jobs yesterday and we’ve already got 23 booked in for today.
“We’ve sent five vehicles out this morning for leaking roofs and flood prevention.
“This will all change of course when the wind picks up.”
Mr Silver reiterated that prevention was key to avoiding flood damage.
“We want to remind the community that all SES branches carry sandbags and they are available to everyone, for free.”
The SES Northern Zone office will be manned for 24 hours from today to help deal with the number of expected calls.
“It’s all a little unknown at the moment,” Mr Silver said.
“I’m looking out my backyard and it looks perfectly fine right now, but we know it won’t be in a few hours.”
SES NSW is warning the community to move vehicles under cover and away from trees, secure any loose items around the home, remain at least eight metres away from fallen power lines, report fallen power lines, don’t drive, ride or walk through flood water, and keep clear of creeks and storm drains.
If you are trapped by flash flooding, SES NSW advises to seek refuge in the highest available place and ring 000 if you need rescue.
“My advice would be to always avoid floodwaters,” Mr Silver said.
“Don’t drive through them, don’t walk through them, don’t ride through them. If you can’t see the bottom don’t take the risk.”
Meanwhile, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has joined the weather warnings, urging people to reconsider their travel plans and stay home this weekend.
Hunter residents are also advised to double-check all planned events, access roads and public transport for closures, with many already cancelled or rescheduled, including Newcastle Fringe Festival events, University of Newcastle campuses, Ben Folds at Bimbadgen Estate and the Hunter trainline.
* For emergency help in floods and storms, ring your local SES Unit on 132 500.