It’s here, the first forecast 40 degree day of summer.

The Hunter has been sweating through the day with temperatures across the region reaching the mid to high 30s. It hit 40 degrees in Tocal at 2:20pm.

A reprieve is still a few hours away though, a southerly change is on the radar and will hit the coastline first between 2am and 3am tomorrow morning.

“So that means it’s going to be a really hot evening tonight, we’ll go to bed under very hot circumstances but then we’ll have a cool breeze moving in across the coastal suburbs during the early hours, but this system isn’t really strong enough to clear the heat from the Upper Hunter so it’s going to remain quite hot there,” said NBN weatherman Gavin Morris.

The hot temperatures have sparked warnings to look out for the most vulnerable in the community. Ambulance Chief Inspector Brian Parcell said the elderly and children are most at risk of conditions such as heat stroke.

“In a medical emergency dial Triple Zero because people who have had a heat-related event, particularly heat exhaustion, and heat stroke there’s a 25 per cent mortality rate associated with that.”

Meanwhile, pet owners are being reminded to take extra care of their animals in the heat. Just this week a dog died in Sydney after being left in a car for six hours.

RSPCA NSW Chief Inspector David O’Shaughnessy said there are plenty of ways owners can keep their animals cool.

“You can put ice cubes in water bowls if you’re not going to be there, place those water bowls in a cool shaded area and out of direct sun. When you’re walking your dog if you’re going to take it for a walk, take it early  in the morning or late in the evening to avoid the hottest part of the day.”

Gavin Morris said warm air will still be making its way over Newcastle on Saturday before a cooler day on Sunday with temperatures in the mid 20s.

Looking ahead to next week through the hot air will back with high 30 degree days.