Lightning strikes spark fire and cut powerFriday January 15, 2016 - 10:21 EDT
The Hunter has once again been battered by a severe storm, blacking out thousands of homes, sparking a grassfire at Port Stephens and forcing the evacuation of a Lake Macquarie nursing home.
The storm hit at 7:30pm (AEDT), and fire crews spent the night responding to several lightning strikes.
One sparked a grassfire at Salamander Bay, which was quickly contained in swampland and did not threaten any property.
Fire and Rescue NSW crews were also called to a nursing home at Charlestown after receiving reports of a lightning strike and flood damage.
Despite reports the nursing home was evacuated, a spokesman has this morning confirmed the facility only suffered minor flooding and no residents were affected.
The strong winds brought several trees down across power lines and Ausgrid says at the height of the storm power was cut to around 12,000 customers in the Hunter.
The worst affected areas were Medowie, Tanilba Bay, West Wallsend and Cardiff.
Its crews spent the night working to repair infrastructure and restore supplies.
Ausgrid's Zoe Allebone said crews are hoping to get power restored to most customers later today.
"We did have about 12,000 customers off at one point last night," she said.
"But our crews have worked late in to the night and they're out again in the field this morning getting power back.
"They've managed to bring that number down to about 1800 homes and businesses without power.
"Affected suburbs include Charlestown, Kotara, Garden Suburb and Edgeworth.
"Crews are also working at Heddon Greta, Putty and Turanville where the storm brought down more than 10 spans of high voltage powerlines.
"But the weather is hampering efforts to get in and do those repairs.
"They are finding ways in, particularly in areas where there are rising waters, so they need to take care out there and make sure the network is safe for the public."
© ABC 2016
More breaking news
A flood watch is current in the Mount Lofty Ranges near Adelaide as another cold front approaches the region.
Damaging winds are forecast to affect Victoria for the second time in two days as a cold front moves into the Bight.
As the last in a string of cold fronts makes its way across southern South Australia, a high pressure ridge will calm the skies until the weekend.