The New South Wales Hunter and Central Coast regions have been battered by large hail stones this afternoon. The Bureau of Meteorology has issued a severe weather warning, with storms detected on the radar near Swansea and Lake Macquarie just before midday.  Senior meteorologist Angus Hines said the severe hail was due to a cold front moving north through the coastal regions.  “Near that cold front we’ve seen some big thunderstorms develop just in the last hour or two,” he said. “Those thunderstorms are generating some really large hail just for those coastal parts of the Hunter district.” The weather bureau said storms were predicted to travel north throughout the afternoon, with places such as Sydney, Belmont, Swansea, and Newcastle also impacted.  “We’ve got a severe thunderstorm warning out covering the area likely to be impacted by these large hailstones over the next half an hour to an hour,” he said.  Mr Hines said the storms were fast to appear, but they should start to ease later in the afternoon. “Through the rest of the afternoon we do expect these thunderstorms and all the activity with the hail to pull offshore out over the water and weaken away,” he said.  “But it could still be another hour or two for some of those coastal places so do stay up to date and check if you’re in the severe weather warning area.” State Emergency Service (SES) chief superintendent Andrew Cribb said crews were responding to hundreds of calls for assistance and more were expected to come through as storms travelled north.  “The storm seems to have moved through. We have taken more than 200 calls for assistance and that is rapidly increasing,” he said.  “The teams have now deployed into the field and are prioritising those jobs as we try to rectify the damage caused to properties.” “We’ve seen flash flooding with backed-up drains and roadways covered. Luckily to this point we haven’t had any flood rescues,” he said. “The majority of jobs have been broken skylights, broken roof tiles, and damage from rain coming into properties through the roofs. The SES advised that people in the severe weather warning region should move cars undercover, unplug computers and appliances, and avoid using phones during a storm.  ABC Newcastle will deliver a wrap of the week’s news, stories and photos every Wednesday. Sign up here. We acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Australians and Traditional Custodians of the lands where we live, learn, and work. This service may include material from Agence France-Presse (AFP), APTN, Reuters, AAP, CNN and the BBC World Service which is copyright and cannot be reproduced. AEST = Australian Eastern Standard Time which is 10 hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)