Rainfall lashing the NSW coast is so heavy it is not just inconvenient but dangerous, with motorists told to take “extreme care” and flash flooding forecast across the state.

A deluge set to last until next week is battering the coast, with more than 200 millimetres already recorded in some regions.

The mid-north coast copped the worst of the conditions on Thursday, with the low pressure system causing the havoc due to spread south to the Hunter, Illawarra and Sydney by the weekend.

Catchments are already soaked, and it won’t take much rainfall for flooding to occur, the Bureau of Meteorology’s Agata Imielska told reporters on Thursday.

“It’s the difference between being inconveniently wet to conditions drastically changing to being dangerously wet,” the meteorologist said.

While the bureau said the system was not expected to develop into an east coast low, it was still a “significant system”.

Forecasters say more than 100mm of rain is expected to fall in a short period of time in some regions.

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There are several flood watches in place on the state’s rivers from the Orara River in the north, with the potential for minor flooding expected on the Georges, Nepean and Hawkesbury rivers in the Sydney region.

“We’re very concerned about the potential for flooding along the coastal rivers from the mid north coast down to Sydney,” said Justin Robinson, the bureau’s flood operations manager.

Towns likely to be affected include Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Taree, Woolgoolga, Sawtell, Bellingen and Dorrigo.

Motorists on Sydney roads have been warned to take “extreme care” with water on roads and visibility severely reduced.

NSW State Emergency Service chief superintendent Greg Swindells said drivers should reconsider their travel, and must not drive through any floodwaters.

“Generally you will see that the people that enter those floodwaters in their vehicles are people that are local to the area and think that ‘I know the road better and I’ll be okay’,” he said.

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“That’s not the case … doesn’t matter how experienced you are as a driver or how big your vehicle may be.”

The inland of NSW is expected to get its share of the rain when a separate system moves in next week.

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