RESIDENTS and rescuers in already saturated northern NSW towns are bracing for heavy rains, destructive wind and flooding.The Bureau of Meteorology updated its severe weather warning for a huge stretch of the state this morning, as a low pressure system edged south towards NSW.
Wild winds, surf and rain are expected to hit the northern rivers, mid-north coast, Hunter and northern tablelands districts later in the day.
A State Emergency Service spokeswoman said conditions overnight were calmer than expected, but the SES was taking no chances, with 130 volunteers and specialist rescuers on standby.
Eight helicopters have been sent north and are ready to go, she said.
BoM meteorologist Ewan Mitchell said the low would cross the far-north coast this afternoon or evening.
"There have been heavy showers up there overnight, falls of up to about 90 millimetres so far," he said.
A huge swathe of the state, stretching from the Queensland border to the Hunter Valley north of Sydney, remains on flood watch, while flood warnings are in place for the Richmond, Wilsons, Bellinger and Orara rivers.
Mr Mitchell could not say whether conditions would be on par with the havoc wreaked by ex-tropical cyclone Oswald over the Australia Day long weekend but said Grafton and Lismore - both drenched during the last round of flooding - were likely to get very wet again today.
Peak gusts of 100km/h were expected to batter coastal areas around the northern rivers and mid-north coast this morning.
The system would weaken as it continued south, but Sydney could still expect showers today and tomorrow, Mr Mitchell said.