Electrical Storms in Northern England – 11th September 2000

Amazing Storms Cause Havoc

Here is what I wrote in my weather diary on the night:

There have been quite severe electrical storms in the North East of England tonight with torrential rain at times. In Ferryhill, the storms started at about 2030 GMT after the weather became very muggy and humid at the end of the afternoon. Late afternoon Dew Point was 19 degC with RH at 92 %. Between 2100 GMT and 2315 GMT lightning flickered almost constantly in all quadrants of the sky, mainly cloud-cloud at first but then some hefty cloud-ground discharges later.

I rang a friend of mine on his mobile to see if he was watching the spectacle. When he answered, he said he was sitting in his car in Aycliffe Village. He said the rain was torrential and we observed the same lightning discharges from about 7 miles apart. While we were talking, a lightning bolt came to earth about 200 yards from where he was sitting and struck a tree on the village green. He described the lightning engulfing the canopy of the tree with a ‘blue electric shroud’. The tree didn’t split, but the ground around the base was seen to be steaming after the strike.

Two miles up the road is the Plastics Factory where we work on Aycliffe Industrial Estate. He said he could hear the site Emergency Alarm going off and it sounded for 50 minutes. Shortly after this 5 or 6 Fire Engines roared through the village from Durham on the way to the factory. The site emergency alarm had obviously been set off by a strike. It’s unknown at the moment if any damage has been caused as they disable all public phone lines into the site when the emergency procedure is triggered. I’m dreading turning up tomorrow to see the effect this has had on our site computer network.

I’ve seen all colours in the lightning discharges tonight from yellow, through orange to green and purple. There seemed to be some circulation involved with rain coming with a slight southerly drift, then ten minutes later from the north, then back to the south again.

Rainfall at it’s heaviest here at Ferryhill yielded 6.8 mm in 30 minutes between 2100 and 2130 GMT but reported to be heavier in Aycliffe. My next door neighbour finishing his 2-10 shift had to stop on the A167 on the way back as a nearby strike blinded him temporarily and took the streetlights out at the same time, plunging him into total darkness before the next lightning lit his way.

The lights are flickering again, so i’m going to post this before I need to disconnect the modem again for the night !

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