Bleak weather takes shine from Yuletide surf

As quickly as Illawarra residents reached for their sunscreen and cranked up the air-conditioning on Christmas Eve, they were back scrambling for their umbrellas yesterday as the weather swiftly turned bleak, dark and wet.

Wollongong sweltered on Monday, forcing many people into the surf to cool down.

However, the heat didn't last long as a cool change swept through in the early evening and the region braced itself for a wild night of weather including thunder, heavy rain and winds.

Temperatures struggled to get over 20 degrees yesterday as cloud and rain threatened overhead for most of the day, putting a serious dampener on outdoor Christmas Day plans.

Several beaches were shut as looming wet weather and rough surf conditions scared off potential beachgoers.

Beaches at Bellambi, Bulli, Corrimal, Stanwell Park, Windang, Wollongong City and Woonona were all closed around lunchtime yesterday due to the wet conditions.

Coledale, Thirroul, Austinmer and Fairy Meadow beaches were shut around 2.30pm due to lightning strikes.

Several beaches including North Wollongong and Port Kembla remained open.

Wet weather is expected to hang around for the rest of the week, with forecasts showing cooler temperatures and showers.

Outdoor New Year's Eve celebrations could also be forced onto the backburner as early morning showers are predicted.

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