SWELTERING overnight temperatures have broken records across the Hunter, with some of the highest minimums recorded in more than 40 years.
At Cessnock the thermometer hovered at just below 30 degrees until 9 am Wednesday, with an overnight minimum of 29.7 easily surpassing the previous record of 26.5 set on January 9, 1983.
The late arrival of a southerly change brought some short-lived respite, dropping the temperature a glorious 5 degrees between 9am and 9.04am – from 33 degrees to 28 degrees, and down to 26.7 by 9.30am.
Lostock Dam and Maitland also experienced record overnight minimums of 28.5 and 26.7 respectively, the highest since weather stations were established at those locations more than 40 years ago.
At Cooranbong in Lake Macquarie it was still 34 degrees at midnight on Tuesday.
Being closer to the coast, the southerly arrived there earlier and hit stronger, bringing the mercury down to 22 degrees by 6.30am.
Newcastle limped through the night at 30 degrees until 5.45am when it dropped dramatically to 24, thanks to that southerly.
The highest overnight minimum temperature recorded at Nobbys in Newcastle in 55 years was 26 degrees on February 6, 2011.
At Merewether the temperature was still 34 degrees at 11pm when Paula Birch snapped a few photos on her iPhone, capturing what she described as surreal scenes of young families keeping cool in the ocean baths (see the image on Page 1).
‘‘I actually went down at 9.30 and then went back at 11pm for a swim and it was still packed,’’ she said.
‘‘It was really surreal, it was like the Olympics, everyone was just sort of in it together. There was this strange, surreal moonlit midnight swim vibe.
‘‘There was a lot of younger kids there, I was quite surprised.’’
Weatherwatch meteorologist Anthony Cornelius said most centres in the Hunter had ‘‘quite a warm night’’ on Tuesday, with the southerly change not coming through until the morning.
In Newcastle the southerly came through about 5.45am when the temperature dropped from 29.8 to 24 degrees, but it arrived later inland and was less substantial, leaving areas like Scone with highs of nearly 40 degrees again yesterday.
And there is more hot weather to come, starting tomorrow with the arrival of a second trough similar to that which brought high temperatures earlier in the week, dragging more heat east towards the coast on the westerly winds.
‘‘The north-north-westerly will be back on Friday and Saturday so inland areas will be as warm again, in the low 40s, but it will be a battle of the north-westerly and a sea breeze on the coast, where it will be slightly cooler,’’ he said.
The forecast for Cessnock and Maitland on Saturday is 40 degrees, and 34 for Newcastle.
A change is due late Saturday night or early Sunday morning, possibly bringing some showers.
Families cool off at the Merewether Baths. Picture: Paula Birch