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THUNDERSTORM 0011

 

Date: 08-05-1998 to 09-05-1998    Time: 23:55 - 00:48 BST
Location:
Macclesfield, Cheshire UK
Storm Stage: Mature
Path / Movement:
Overhead / NW

Footage Quality:
Hi-8
 

This was the first substantial overhead thunderstorm for 1998 for Macclesfield, and it was dramatic in itís fury too. It was fairly large, close-by, and we had clear displays of blue C-C in the night-sky after the clock struck midnight, one of which gave a thunder loud enough set car alarms off and buffet the windows.

It was a very humid day with a warm-sector airmass feeding up from Spain and France. London reached its highest temperature of the year so far at 25įC. The showers were being produced by a mini area of low pressure with a showery trough positioned in the south of the country. The whole system was heading north-westwards and on the precipitation radar on the BBC TV weather forecast there was an area of speckled showers (light to moderate) over the Midlands heading northwards. Originally I thought they would either dissipate or just pass over lightly and unnoticed, but I prepared myself just in case anything developed. The next forecast with a radar image wasn't for a few hours so I had to stay alert.

As midnight was drawing in, I hung out of the window to smell the warm and humid spring air of the night, and I thought that it was a perfect atmosphere for a night-time storm. As I thought that a faint distant flash occurred in the corner of my left eye, so I prepared the camera. As it drew in closer, I started to hear some distant thunder with the lightning flashes, which meant it was within a good 10-20 mile thunder-audibility range. I started to film pointing towards the west based on the flashes I saw. After a few more discharges the lightning was starting to get brighter and closer and it started raining. It was then I realised the storm must have been approaching from the southwest.

I had told myself, before the storm came, that if an overhead storm did eventually come today then aim the camera up at a higher angle into the sky (than I usually did) to capture any overhead I-C or C-C lightning. In 1997 I used to aim the camera so the ground was visible in order to capture the full arc of C-G strikes, and as a consequence I was missing what was going on overhead. So I aimed the camera upward and it was about to pay off. Eventually the rain fell harder as the storm passed directly overhead, giving a total of four excellent close-up displays of C-C, I-C and a few other distant C-Cs and flashes. I wouldnít have got these brilliant new shots if I hadnít have aimed the camera at a higher angle.

The first C-C took me completely by surprise. I hadn't realised the lightning hotspot of the storm-cell had crept directly overhead until I was blinded by two incredibly bright C-Cs streaks across the sky. I had to blink afterwards it was that bright as I could still see the outline of the lightning burnt into my retinas, and if that wasnít enough I was deafened as well. Precisely eight seconds after the discharge the most phenomenal thunder Iíve heard crashed across the landscape setting off car alarms and buffeting the windows (more about this later). The following close-by C-Cs werenít as energetic as the initial. This I can justify because the second C-C was exactly the same distance away judging off the thunder, maybe a fifth of a mile closer, and the thunder wasnít even half as loud. This shows how lightning can vary in electrical properties depending on the magnitude and environmental conditions of the discharge. Most of the remaining lightning discharges were seen as C-Cs with branches and feelers, somewhat extremely photogenic and beautiful.

Here are some detailed statistics of the initial loud thunder at the beginning. It took 8 seconds for the first thunder-waves to travel from the lightning to where I was, which was equivalent to approximately 1.6 miles away (2.67km). This is a fair distance for a thunder of this magnitude. Unusually high-amp lightning, possibly C-C in conjunction with an unseen P-F (positive flash) occurrence, was most likely the cause of this. The thunder was about 30 seconds in duration suggesting that it may have been of upper-anvil origins with along-channel.

Edit: I am writing this current paragraph December 2007 and the archive is currently up to T0072. Sixty-one thunderstorms later and I have yet to witness anything to match the ferocity of the thunder in this storm, including discharges occurring at a quarter of the distance as this one. This  single discharge together with the spectacular C-C shows has earned T0011 "Storm of the Year" by a country mile. Check out the video below.

CLICK BELOW FOR VIDEO OF IMMENSE DISCHARGE (Youtube)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_PzUs1wqq0

ANALYSIS OF EXTRAORDINARY THUNDER

Time (seconds)

Length (seconds)

Description

0.0

1.8

Build Up

1.8

2.5

1st set of bangs - 5 Loud Bangs

4.3

0.5

Main Rumble and Aftershock Rumbles

4.8

2.0

2nd set of bangs - 3 Longer Bangs

6.8

23.2

Aftershock Rumble and Echoes

30.0

 

End

WETTERZENTRALE SPHERICS (CREDITS)
EUROPE 24-hour 8th May LIGHTNING SPHERIC LOCATION

EUROPE 24-hour 9th May LIGHTNING SPHERIC LOCATION

DUNDEE SATELLITE IMAGES (CREDITS)
VISIBLE 08.05.1998 16:46

INFRARED 08.05.1998 16:46
COLOUR 08.05.1998 16:46

INFRARED 09.05.1998 03:35

 


RAVENSTORM CREDITS