Mixed weather starts year

BLISTERING heat, ghostly fog, a shark sighting and sudden drops in temperature all featured as the Hunter welcomed in the new year on Tuesday.

Inland towns copped the worst of the hot weather with 17 degrees separating Cessnock from Nobbys Beach in the afternoon.

Newcastle beaches were packed from morning till afternoon and the heat threatened to reach lofty heights about 11.30am with 32 degree temperatures.

Mayfield’s Kate and Jason Murray took daughter Charlotte, 3, to Newcastle Beach in the morning after enjoying a quiet New Year’s Eve.

‘‘We just had a quiet night and a nice dinner with friends with children,’’ Mrs Murray said.

‘‘We were up early to go to the beach before it got too hot.’’

Yet within half an hour she didn’t have much to worry about as a sea breeze blew in and caused a drop of five degrees.

In Cessnock temperatures had already reached 30 degrees by 9am and steadily rose throughout the day.

It hit a sweltering 40 degrees just after 4pm while at the same time Nobbys was enjoying a comfortable 23.

Earlier in the day an eerie fog had blocked the skyline of Newcastle beach for a few minutes.

Weatherwatch chief meteorologist Don White said it was due to a weak cool air undercutting the warmer air already lingering.

‘‘It was caused by the southerly change and because the air was so humid we saw that brief fog come across,’’ he said.

Mr White said the next few weeks would provide similar conditions with inland towns hovering in the 30s and coastal regions experiencing cooler temperatures.

A shark sighting at Stockton Beach about midday also forced swimmers out of the water for around an hour.

Newcastle beach inspector Warren Smith said the action was precautionary as the small shark was located at the rock wall and nowhere near the flagged area.

‘‘We treat these things very seriously and did a complete search of the area just to make sure before allowing people back in the water,’’ he said.

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