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

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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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