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Lauren

Your best unexpected storms.

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As I know recently people have had storms pop up when there's been not much to indicate there would be a storm, I was thinking it would be good to recollect similar storms in our memories.

 

Where were you? What did the data suggest? How did it develop? What was the storm like and did you think it was coming even if the data didn't? Do you have any pictures or videos from them?

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25th Jan '14, lots of thunder/lightning, in what looked like an average January day, not sure how it developed? assume squall line as too early for convection from sun strength

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Back in 2011 when I was in Switzerland for a while there wasn't really much of a way of knowing the weather forecast with a limited internet connection and the local TV forecasts. One day it was cloudy but still very warm then lightning struck nearby and about a minute later it was followed by torrential rain mixed with hail. There were a few more strikes close by. The TV forecasts never mentioned anything about this.

 

More recently to May this year I read online that thunderstorms were likely in parts of the UK and that I had a slight risk. 4pm that day a couple of rumbles in the distance followed by heavy rain which lasted about 30 minutes along with a few more rumbles of thunder. Later on at 8pm it had cleared up a bit but then quickly within minutes the sky turned dark and I saw lightning several times in the distance very close by, this went on until 10pm, this time we didn't get any rain.

Edited by weathermaster

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25th Jan '14, lots of thunder/lightning, in what looked like an average January day, not sure how it developed? assume squall line as too early for convection from sun strength

Yeah we had two thunder days in January here - most unexpected!

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I recall a number of lightning events, the most significant are as follows:

 

The first was when I was an Air Cadet at Grimsby - we had finished the evening session and I was cycling the 5 miles to home. It was dark with torrential rain with lightning flashing all over the place - I wondered as to how safe I would be but reasoned that with the rubber tyres on the cycle I should be relatively safe but it was a cycle ride I will never forget. Strangely enough it did not worry me that I got soaked to the skin - it was one of the best displays I had ever seen, so much better because it was night.

 

The second was about June 1984 and I was a Sergeant on duty at St Albans Police Station - the morning was bright and clear, then a storm developed - at one stage the lightning and the thunder virtually coincided so that there was a loud crack rather than a rumble - then we had a call to go to a playing field where some boys had been playing football - 3 of the boys were injured fatally. Apparently they had been sheltering under tree at the height of the storm, which the lightning struck - at the scene there were clear marks on the tree and along the ground for about 150 feet, showing clearly the track. A sad day.

 

About 10 years later we took my mother over to France and decided to visit Pezanas for a little sightseeing and lunch - it was beautiful day to start off with, very warm but as we were sitting outside at a café, we started to get drops of rain - I rushed across the road to buy a couple of parapluies, then decided to make tracks back to our place at Capestang - by then the storm was getting itself in good order with lightning every few seconds. At one time there was a clap and I saw the lightning strike in a field some 50 metres to my right.

 

Then about that same year we went a 'twinning' to a town called Tonneins, which is midway between Bordeaux and Toulouse. We were spending the evening at one of our host's houses for dinner and a few drinks around his fairly large swimming pool - this fellah was a tax inspecter, so we know what happens to our taxes, or at least our French equivalents - a little after nightfall, we started to see lightning to the south - meanwhile I had availed myself of the pool and enjoying a swim but as time went on I could see the lightning was getting closer and closer, so that in the end I chickened out and left the water, not sure of what the result would be of the lightning striking the water I was in. However the Pyrenees are a little way off to the south and being over 3000 metres in height in a number o0f places, they can throw up some mothers and fathers of storms.

 

A few years latter we had booked a flight to Perpignan - a little before we arrived the captain warned us that because of the weather conditions we may have to divert to Gerona, however as it happened there had been a slight clearance - just sufficient for the captain to try his luck at landing and whilst we were getting in position there were frequent flashes of lighting but not like it is when you see it from the ground because we were in cloud and this ended up with the cloud being illuminated at intervals around us. Some of the passengers appeared a little nervous but I was not unduly worried because I knew that lightning strikes of modern aircraft was a fairly regular feature and that the metal fuselage protects the occupants.

 

However, this was not so with my next story - I did not have any personal involvement in this but learnt about it later - it concerns the fate of an ASK 21 glider at the London Gliding Cub at Dunstable, where I am doing some gliding training at the moment. This aircraft is constructed of fibre glass, so there is no metal fuselage to conduct the electricity from the strike away - it is a tandem configuration and had an instructor sitting in the rear seat and the pupil in the front. It was April 1999 and there were some nice thermals around and though thunder was in the forecast, this was, although within sight, a little way off.  At one point they got close to a cloud which appeared to be growing and a good source of a thermal when suddenly there was a loud crash and the aircraft started to break up - both managed to bail out, the pilot sustaining a broken ankle on landing and the pupil sustaining perforated eardrums but otherwise unhurt. It transpired that is was a POSITIVE lightning strike, much more powerful than the normal negative strikes.

 

Needless to say, if I see anything which has the makings of a 'cu-nimb' like that I will start to reduce height and get back down on the airfield PDQ.

 

http://wxguard.com/latest-lightning-news/lightning-strike-destroys-glider

Edited by mike Meehan

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March 29 2014 - Suddenly went very dark at around 2pm, thunder slowly bagan at about 3pm then it suddenly started raining torrentially. Thunder was so loud it shook cars and lightning was close up, thunder went off about three times a minute and lasted around 20 minutes, quite an impressive amount of time for the intensity of the storm. I wonder how intense the storm would have been if the CAPE was higher (>500) and LI was lower (<-3). More recently June 8th also was a soaking, although I don't remember hearing any thunder but there was reports of it. The rain may just have been louder though (82mm/hr). Apart from these events, I have been unlucky with other recent ones.

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actually last tuesday,

I though the plume event was all but over,  there had been a couple of weakish  storms, going up the west side of the NW region a day or two before but saw or heard nothing here, and from experience thought that was the plume 'event',

Then I noticed a huge Cb building but again to far west and travelling the path of the previous storms, then I noticed some towers growing on the south east back edge, the towers grew more and I noticed the sky growing darker on the horizon,  I knew that was the section of sky that had our name on it, then the first rumble, about 30 seconds later the second rumble,  then they started to increase in frequency and get louder,  first visible forks started to appear , along with sheet IC lightning, all hell broke loose with a constant chorus of rumbling thunder , with a few almighty close booms thrown in, a few unfortunate properties suffered lightning damge ,     A classic thunderstorm out of nowhere

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We had flown to Barcelona, where we picked up a hire car and were en route back north to France - it was still broad daylight -and as we reached the motorway I could see the clouds were very black with a greenish twinge - it was obvious we were heading into something, then it happened, the heavens opened like I've never seen it before. I was in lane 1 following another car and as the rain and hail intensified, the car in front came to a halt and switched on its hazard lights - I stopped just a few feet behind and did the same but all I could see of the car in front was the glow of its hazard lights blinking - I looked to my right and could not even see the hard shoulder.

 

I never heard any thunder but the noise of the precipitation hitting the car roof could have drowned that out.

 

After about 5 or 10 minutes the storm abated and we were able to continue and for the next few miles hail stones were lining the side of the motorway. 

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Summer 1997.  I used to live in Kingston-upon-Thames and the country was enjoying a hot, settled spell of weather under an anticyclone that was sitting over the UK.  

 

11am, and the sky was littered with fair-weather cumulus.  

 

By lunchtime these cumulus clouds were exhibiting updrafts - still small flat bases but extending vertically in a ragged manner.  

 

Then, around 3pm and quite suddenly, the sky quickly darkened and a powerful thunderstorm broke out, which rumbled on until 7pm.  We had torrential rain, frequent CG lightning strikes and hail.

 

The storm had taken forecasters completely by surprise.  The radar showed a completely dry picture across the whole of the UK but with a big lump of red over our location.  The TV forecast that night labelled it a "tropical downpour".  It was the first time I'd ever experienced a storm in the middle of a high-pressure system (something I'd argued was impossible years before with my geography teacher) and is something I'll never forget.

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For me I guess it would have to be one year in Halkidiki, Greece. 2005, I think.

 

Granted I couldn't radar watch or look at graphs or anything, so I can't say there was nothing there, I just had to rely on the skies. We had arrived in baking hot weather, as in you melt just walking a few feet kind of heat. We welcomed the day cooling down and there was not a cloud in the sky as we sat on our balcony with a cool drink.

 

We decided that as it was still a few hours until dinner, we would go for a walk around the village to get our bearings. As we left the hotel I remember thinking what a perfect evening it was, not a cloud in the sky and great visibility over to the next 'finger' (I didn't know at that point that great vis in clear skies can often mean moisture in the air in that part of the world).

 

As we walked along the beach about half hour later, it seemed, as if on a timelapse, huge storm clouds building up. No exaggeration, it must have gone from no clouds to huge, looming anvils within about 20 minutes and because visibility was so good, they were really clearly defined and looked incredible against the very slightly dimming daylight. We learnt the definition of a 'bolt from the blue' that day as lightning struck a tall pine tree about 200mtrs away with the most deafening thunder. To say I nearly soiled myself would be an understatement. Luckily a lone beach bar was nearby and we ran to it and sheltered. About 10 minutes later the most torrential rain I ever seen in the Med arrived with T&L near constant. We watched it in awe for about 30 minutes, when it suddenly seemed to have died. We took the opportunity to get back to the hotel, about 15 minutes away. We couldn't have timed it better as no sooner had we closed the door behind us, it started up again. I presume it was an MCS. So we put dinner plans on hold and watched it for another hour or so. We then headed out to dinner along with seemingly the rest of the village who had waited until it had passed.

 

Great storm as it was, it certainly brought out the mozzies the next day.

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We had a series of good storms in January this year and last. Proper thunderstorms with CG lightning, shotgun thunder and everything. During January last year we had 4-5 separate storms one day and I think 2 the next. That's more thundery activity in 2 January days than in the past 8-9 summers!

Edited by Bobby

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Gotta be the one last Friday!

Admittedly the forums on Netweather had mention of sonething possible but I honestly didn't expect for us to have any thunder at all, let alone an all-out storm.

I went storm watching down at Devil's punch bowl first and could see flashes but that was from a fading cell over Portsmouth and feeling like we had lost out I headed back and thought I'd get one quick look from Guildford. Didn't expect to see another cell develop to my north and as that faded the monster moved in from the NW and gave the best lightshow I've seen for about 10 years!

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