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Quicksilver1989

What are the worst thunderstorms you have experienced in the UK?

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Posted (edited)

I do not have any dates for before 2004 but I do remember some great storms as a kid/teenager (which would have been in the 80's/90's) that I would watch from my bedroom window. They would always seem to move in from the south or south-east, I don't remember any big ones moving in from the west or the north. My parents told me of a storm that occurred when I was about 3 which would have been the summer of 1981 where it was hot and sunny without a cloud in the sky and within minutes all hell let loose. We were out walking at the time and were allowed in to shelter at a Severn Trent water works. I obviously have no recollection but to this day my parents seem to remember that as being one of the biggest they can remember.

In the last 15 years whereby I have been a storm chaser I would say my biggest were as follows (I apologise for it being such a long read):

21st October 2004 - I was able to get under a squall line that passed over Chesterfield and points east. The storm brought lots of lightning, thunder, gusty winds and hailstones the size of marbles. It was the first decent storm I had managed to capture as back at this time I used to chase with no internet and only a radio to guide me.

19th June 2005 - I was on my way to Scotland for a summer break with my then wife and driving up the A1M on what was a very hot day with temperatures in the low 30's. I had seen on the forecasts that there was a risk of storms and so when I saw a big dark storm cloud ahead of me I pulled off the A1 near to Northallerton and headed into it. As I did there was intense lightning ahead of me including a big CG that hit just ahead of me. The roads were flooding and unfortunately I could not get under the storm as the traffic ended up at a standstill. I later found out this storm had caused severe flooding around Thirsk.

28th June 2005 - one of the best MCS storms I have seen move over Derby. It started at around 8pm and lasted into the night with lots of lightning and thunder.

10th May 2006 - I was down in Wiltshire as an MCS moved in from the east. The storm went on for so long that my camcorder ran out of battery and I was therefore only able to record the first half of it. There was some intense lightning and I saw a CG bolt strike a tree with sparks flying off as it did. I did not capture it on film unfortunately as I was driving and this occurred out of my driver side window.

21st August 2006 - A storm moves over Worcester and produces frequent bolts of lightning, some very close and very loud thunder. It also caused flooding in Worcester city centre

28th June 2012 - Although I wished I had been further south around Hinckley I still was under this storm as it passed through Lincolnshire as a fully fledged HP Supercell. I would say at the time this storm produced the heaviest rainfall I had ever seen and was accompanied by frequent flashes of lightning. Most of the lightning seemed fairly elevated though. This storm also dropped some marble sized hailstones and very strong winds as I passed just to the east of Horncastle. The cars on the road in front of me had to stop and pull to the side of the road as visibility was almost nil. 

22nd-23rd July 2013 - A storm in the evening near to the M1 J26 with frequent lightning and hail was the precursor to a night of lightning, thunder and storms over Leicestershire. At this time it was the best night time storm I had seen since starting chasing 9 years earlier.

2nd August 2013 - Although it was fairly localised this was a very photogenic storm with awesome structure. It moved up from around Uttoxeter towards Ashbourne during the evening. It was producing frequent flashes of lightning and I was able to watch it for a while as it moved over with almost constant thunder rumbling from it. When it arrived it did not last long but produced torrential rain, hail and gusty winds.

19th July 2014 - What a storm. I was near to Coalville as a suspected supercell moved towards and over me, visibly rotating and flashing nicely. As it came over it produced a funnel cloud, torrential rain, pea sized hailstones, very gusty winds and some bright flashes of lightning. I wanted to chase the storm but my car broke down and so I watched it depart. Luckily my car had just taken on water and started again after around 20 minutes and so I then chased the storm up the M1 all the way from Coalville to the M18. As I did I was treated to many CG's, some of them fairly close.

1st July 2015 - Although I never got into a good position to film the storm I did get to drive behind and eventually underneath a very active storm on the M6 between Stoke and Manchester. This storm came after the hottest July day ever recorded and was producing frequent lightning the likes I cannot remember having ever witnessed before this storm. Underneath it was torrential rainfall, gusty winds and very bright lightning.

7th June 2016 - In my mind this storm is the best storm I have ever been under with regards to lightning. I was situated around Bedford as an MCS moved up from London and produced the best day time lightning display I have ever seen. There were frequent CG bolts, some very close, and ground shaking thunder. I chased the storm into Bedford but was caught in rush hour traffic and so could not keep up with it. 

18th-19th July 2017 - After driving through a moderate storm between Northampton and Milton Keynes I ended up heading east and stopping just south of Cambridge as an intense storm moved over. This would produce frequent lightning, more frequent than the storm on the 1st July and so took first place as the most frequent lightning I have ever witnessed. It was virtually all elevated flashes with very few visible bolts but the frequency was amazing, a flash every second at times. Underneath the storm there was biblical rain (as heavy as the storm on June 28th 2012), strong winds and the biggest hailstones I had ever seen with some the size of 50p pieces. I chased the storm into Suffolk where it lost some of its intensity but was still more intense than most storms I have witnessed. This storm would take the spot of best storm I have seen and still remains there to this date.

21st April 2018 - The best April storm I have witnessed, and one of the better storms I have had the privilege of chasing. Frequent lightning, thunder and torrential rain as a storm moves over near to Thame in Berkshire. This storm had travelled through Wiltshire and I had headed down the M4 to intercept it. As I did I was seeing lots of distant orange flashes to my west and as it came over it produced a storm of which I would have been more than satisfied with at the height of summer.

31st May 2018 - After seeing several good storms over the past week this storm would top them all. Generally there had been less storms on this day than on the 26th and 27th May but I was under the most intense of all of them near to Stow-on-the-Wold in Gloucestershire. This storm produced intense rainfall (nearly as heavy as that on the 18th/19th July 2017) frequent lightning (although not like 18th/19th July 2017) and some very nice IC/CG bolts and loud thunder (better than the 18th/19th July 2017). 

Edited by Supacell
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I remember a slow-moving whopper that came from the north, in 1962...I was watching its anvil approach for what seemed like all afternoon (so don't ask me what the lesson was about!). Anywho, it hit just after I'd got home: frequent lilac-coloured lightning, near daylight darkness and mountains of hail.

After that my memory goes blank!⚡

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On 13/06/2018 at 18:02, BurwellWeatherWatch said:

in Cambridgeshire - sometime mid-late July 2015 - absolutely incredible storm throughout the night with continuous thunder/lightning and biblical rain.

 

That would have been the same system I spent hours with. I had no need to follow it initially as it trained along nicely , with the heaviest rain towards the A47. I did follow it up and drove through some serious flooding on minor roads nr Bradenham, parked up and just watched a tremendous elevated display, then went back to where I started to catch the tail end at around 3.30am. ONe of the best nights I've ever spent!

Malaysia - according to my OH when he was in KL they start at about 4pm, finish at 7pm and there's no change in the temp or humidity afterwards!

 

Outside of the UK the best was in Holland August 2015 - genuine supercell experience from 9.30pm - 3am and I was in a caravan! The sound of marble sized hail hitting the roof will stay with me for a long time, it was so loud it drowned out the incredible thunder, never seen lightning like it. I keep hoping for a repeat experience but as yet it hasn't happened (and this year Holland seems to have used up it's storm budget rather early...)

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12 hours ago, Norfolk Sheep said:

(and this year Holland seems to have used up it's storm budget rather early...)

Is there a storm budget in Holland? I thought they were open to unlimited storms!

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Around 10th July 1995 here in Plymouth. Never known a night like it, it started thundering at 2300hrs and just didn’t stop until the next morning. I remember walking around the City Centre to get lunch and most Plymouthians were all tired from the lack of sleep.

 

Never had a storm like it since.

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It probably would have been, as the north of England had significant thunderstorms on the night of the 11th/12th July 1995 and the storms were gradually moving north-east.

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9 hours ago, philglossop said:

Around 10th July 1995 here in Plymouth. Never known a night like it, it started thundering at 2300hrs and just didn’t stop until the next morning. I remember walking around the City Centre to get lunch and most Plymouthians were all tired from the lack of sleep.

 

Never had a storm like it since.

 

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2 hours ago, Weather-history said:

 

That’s the one!

 

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On 09/06/2018 at 18:23, Weather-history said:

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I was sat in a caravan in Triangle just outside Rippendon during that. Went black as the black of spades. Old caravan but it proved it didn’t leak!  

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On 17/06/2018 at 10:01, Supacell said:

28th June 2005 - one of the best MCS storms I have seen move over Derby. It started at around 8pm and lasted into the night with lots of lightning and thunder.

Im glad you mentioned this one, because that date has been stuck in my mind for ages when trying to think of great storms and i was never sure it i had it correct or not! A cracking storm with constant lightning, probably the best i've ever witnessed. 

Honourable mentions would include;

June 28th 2012 despite being slightly further North than the main outbreak (this day in my mind is the benchmark for UK storms, certainty in the radar era)

July 19th 2014 was a great storm, frequent CGs

July 1st 2015 where i sat and watched an incredible storm over Manchester and the NW from around 40 miles away

September 13th 2016 storm which moved North over the Peak District, constant barrage of CG's and some fairly large hail 

 

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Most astonishing thunderstorm event I witnessed has a scientific paper written about it! The West Surrey Thunderstorm. Absolutely monumental on rainfall alone. Caused severe flooding. https://rmets.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/wea.174

 

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The clear winner for me was 8th August 2014, namely for the fact that it formed a coherent funnel cloud passing more or less over my street (it was spinning with vertical updrafts inside) and was probably the most scared i have been in years (for all i knew, it could actually form a tornado). The shower that day was also epic with thunder, hail and what was probably close to gale force wind. 

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Talking of storms coming from the north or west.  One of the best storms in this area actually came down from the north.  It was overnight 13/14th June 2014.  The day had been warm but not exceptionally so and cumulus gradually started towering up through the afternoon and evening.  A few distant flashes and rumbles earlier in the evening before all hell let loose just after midnight.  2-3hours of continuous torrential rain, frequent cgs, wall shaking thunder and a nice bit of bead lightning to top it all off.  This was the best storm in the Basingstoke area I remember (although perhaps since matched in intensity by the sept 2016 storm).

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nimrod_15071623001.thumb.jpg.f4dc186c23b696cec3659de4999794e9.jpg

Overnight
from the 16th-17th July 2015 without a doubt. From the MetO website:

'A vigorous low pressure system on 16 to 18 July brought heavy rain and strong winds to much of Scotland. There was significant flooding and consequent disruption on the 17th, especially in Perthshire with the town of Alyth particularly badly affected. Thunderstorms also caused some flash flooding in Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk with a major incident declared at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge due to flooding'

I live and work close to Addenbrookes at a school (2 min walk) - there was just so much rain, hail bigger than golf balls, gale force gusts of wind, constant booming thunder and lightning. The streets looked like a bomb had gone off, all the trees were stripped bare. 

My mother in law is the site officer at a local secondary school, and all the rain poured from the playgrounds through/under all the doors as the drains were overwhelmed. Once it had finally stopped I stayed up all night using wet carpet vacuums to mop up all the water....I'm not sure how we even got the school open by 7am to be honest. I remember it clear as a bell, I'm sure others have had locally extreme events. My boss at the time lived 15 miles away in St Ives, and they hadn't had a drop there. Small margins!

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Posted (edited)

I actually can't remember any really bad thunderstorms in Leeds. TWS mentions a few bad ones in 2005/2006 which sound familiar but I'm not really sure. 

Edit, just did a Google search and this one sounds familiar: http://www.neforum2.co.uk/ferryhillweather/extraordinarydays/files/2104d057ec4c16b340ed886fd762b2f9-2.html

And there was the Leeds 'tornado' on 14 September 2006 but again I don't remember that being too bad, I think certain areas of the city were more badly affected compared to where I was living, some trees were knocked over in Roundhay, some damage to roofs etc.

My weather memory really is pretty crap.

Edited by cheese

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I don't specifically remember any very damaging storms other than from rainfall amounts, and maybe wind gusts, but here are some of the best/worst that come to mind.

27th-29th May 1999 - A brilliant spell of thunderstorms. The night of the 27th more so for the lightning and thunder which was relentless and positively ground shaking. I was very young at the time and this was around the time I started enjoying thunderstorms rather than being scared by them. The 29th was then all about the rainfall and hail intensity and the electrical green sky that preceded the storm's onset. The thunder and lightning was also impressive. It went really dark during the day as well and the street lights came on.

04th July 2001 - Classic three hot days and thunderstorm scenario. They started around 4am here and kept going through the morning. Incredible rainfall and thunder/lightning. I remember a lot of kids at school being scared and rightly so. My Grandad has records from this storm and it produced nearly 60mm of rain. There were further storms in the coming days but not to quite the same extent. Summer 2001 was quite thundery overall.

28th June 2005 - This is one of my all time favourites. Having already been spoiled by the storms that lasted the day (all 8 of them!) on the 24th, the evening and night ones of the 28th were something else. Very threatening skies and deep booming thunder as it approached around 7pm, then all hell let loose between 7.30 and 9pm. Probably some of the heaviest rain I've seen ever that set the gutters overflowing in minutes. There were strong gusty winds too at times. Oddly though, no hail.

10th May 2006 - The famous solitary storm that tracked along the M4 from west London and gave a near 6-hour thunderstorm as it kept back building. Precipitation wasn't as impressive as some others, but it produced some pretty big hail that set off a few alarms and the thunder was overhead multiple times as new cells passed over. I managed to catch a bright cg coming down next to a plane flying into nearby Bristol airport that evening. There were a few more thunderstorms on the evening of the 11th but not anywhere to the degree.

19th June 2007 - One of my all time heaviest rainfall rates occurred from this brief but spectacular storm. 32mm in as many minutes and roads turned to rivers in no time. It's one of the few occasions my road, which is almost flat, has been completely covered in water. This storm was also preceded by a classic whales mouth that was, again, tinted green, denoting the frequency of lightning that also accompanied.

09th May 2008 - This one wasn't overhead most of the time, as it tracked across Bristol just to my north, but the lightning display from it was comparable to some of the storms I've seen in the tropics. Some great anvil crawlers and flashes that lit up the entire storm clouds. Good thunder too.

23rd July 2013 - My 21st birthday present, that woke me up in the early hours. This is the first time I've had an entirely dry thunderstorm in the UK in my lifetime. Almost constant thunder, often of a grumbling sort but occasionally with loud booms and bangs. The lightning was also extremely frequent - at one point I counted 15 bright flashes in one minute! One to remember, not least because of the date.

18th September 2014 - Similar in fact to the 23rd July 2013 ones in that a lot of the storm was dry, and the main feature was the impressive lightning and frequency of it. A downpour did ensue, however, and gave most of the month's rain in less than half an hour.

27th May 2017 - Incredible storms, and very reminiscent of the 1999 ones of the same date. A vivid lightning display as the storms rolled in from the south, then the rain that followed was as intense as any rain I've seen. It was of course completely dark at the time but when there was lightning one could see the sheets of it and the trees being blown about by the wind. A truly tropical style storm that gave over an inch of rain.

19th July 2017 - Almost a carbon copy of May's but with less rain and for not as long. The main difference was the silent lightning storm that preceded the noisy one following on behind. I don't hold these in such high regard as it signalled the end of most of summer 2017's fine weather for good, bar some days in August.

 

I hope to add to this list soon. There have of course been many other good storms but these are the ones that stand out.

 

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Mid 60s, Upware, Cambs. Early March, totally nondescript day, about 9 degrees C. Fishing with my dad on the Cam. I was 15 or 16 I would think

It's the fens, flat as a pancake. The light cloud & drizzle gave way to a milky sun - no change in temp. - & I was concentrating on the fishing (poor) & immersed in the landscape, wildlife, my own thoughts.

I can't remember what I noticed first, the birds going quiet, the slight breeze dropping, the noise, or the first visible signs on the horizon.

Being so flat you can see for miles, & something odd was happening. There was a blackness approaching from the west, a total contrast to the hazy blue in front of it. Then I realised it wasn't just uniform, but split into distinct parts, an army heading towards us. As it closed in you could hear a continuous booming, see the lightning flickering within each malestrom - you could see the vortex structure as the nearest one reached us, & suddenly everything went sideways.

We were sitting under metal framed fishing umbrellas. In a completely flat landscape. As the lightning came down me & my dad panicked a bit; I can't remember if we sat it out or rushed for the car, but I do know I was terrified (& we didn't get hit!).

Unsurprisingly I dreamt about that storm, possibly the scariest dream of my life. The funny thing was it was in a different landscape - I was stumbling along a ridge with trees - & from the cloud I heard a voice, which was as ridiculous as it was frightening. You see there was a programme on the radio called the Billy Cotton Band Show, on Sundays, & every week there'd be a totally silly interlude of a minute or two when some 50s type sci-fi electronic music would start up & a voice (allegedly from a UFO) would say to Billy "hey you, you down there with the glasses .." & a short & daft conversation would ensue.

Anyway, this voice said " hey you, you down there .. now listen to me ..."

And I woke up. Sweating.

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GFS forecast for today suggests heavy showers between 4-8pm which looks our best chance before Monday.

I would suspect that any we do get may be thundery.

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Interesting programme on iplayer about lightening. Dangerous Earth, 3. Lightning: www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b083dgt5 via @bbciplayer

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For sheer number of flashes (hundreds probably) July this year must be among the 'best'.
 


It wasn't visually appealing in the way this example was, which didn't really affect us but gave hail and heavy rain to the north.
(October 2012)

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