GALLERY: Stormy spell heating up

SCORCHING heat, bursts of rain and fierce lightning strikes have hit the Hunter over the past two days and could remain for the next week.

The bizarre mix of conditions has sent people from running for the beach to scrambling for cover.

Temperatures are set to gradually soar with  Scone, Singleton and Muswellbrook looking at seven straight days of plus-30 degree weather.

As the Hunter Valley towns  brace for a draining 41 degrees on Friday and 42 on Saturday, it won’t deter thunderstorms.

Rural Fire Service crews are observing conditions amid a number of fires sparking in the area.

RFS Hunter Valley Superintendent Paul Jones said 4000 lightning strikes had been recorded on Monday night with 15 fires reported, eight of which were still burning, albeit under control, last night.

‘‘Most of them are around the Singleton and Putty Road areas and one at Hebden in Muswellbrook,’’ he said.

‘‘We expect more fires to come to light as the days warm up further down the week.

‘‘It’s a matter of how much rain comes with the storms but we’ll be keeping an eye on them.

‘‘The ones that are concerns are old dead trees and logs that smoulder for days unnoticed and then flare up with strong winds.’’

Temperatures along the coast won’t reach the lofty heights experienced inland but will still rise from the mid-20s to early 30s as the weekend approaches.

 Newcastle Herald readers have submitted  photos from Monday night’s electrical storm, including the one featured on our front page,  by freelance photographer Dan Irwin.

His shot of Newcastle Harbour  from Fort Scratchley, using five 30-second exposures, shows the awesome nature of the spectacle.

‘‘Monday night’s storm would have to be one of the best lightning shows I have seen in years, it lasted well over two hours,’’ he said.


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