Pre-2006

June 23rd 2005: Strong Thunderstorm, Poole Harbour, Dorset

This was a classic storm for this area, and one of the best in last decade for me, yet it was relatively isolated and only affected coastal areas from Swanage in Dorset, to the west of the Isle of Wight. It was a typical 'plume' storm after a spell of very warm weather (up to 31C locally). Developments began around sunset, just offshore in the Channel. By around 9:30 p.m, the sky was becoming very dark to the SW, with the classic altocumulus castellanus covering the sky. I set off into Dorset, reaching Poole by about 10 p.m. By this time, lightning was flickering to the south and the odd cg strike began to appear. There was still some light in the sky, but images were starting to become possible. All the images below have been scanned (poorly) from prints, so excuse the poorer quality. First shot is near to Holes Bay:

Holes Bay

As the sky became fully dark, the storm began to intensify, with some great multiple-branched cg (cloud-to-ground) lightning. This one's a bit out of focus but shows the type of lightning well:

Holes Bay

I tried to find a good spot with a view over Poole Harbour, where most of the lightning was taking place. Not knowing the area very well meant it took some time! I arrived at a good vantage point at about 11 p.m, but the storm just wasn't moving at all! I have never seen such a stationary display before, it couldn't have moved more than 5 miles in 2-3 hrs. Lightning was occurring every 3-5 seconds now, and most was cg:

Poole Harbour

There were anvil crawlers, cloud-to-cloud, cgs, every type of lightning:

Poole Harbour

Poole Harbour

This was one of the best multiple strikes that night. Unfortunately, not all of it was in frame:

Poole Harbour

But there was plenty more where that came from:

Poole Harbour

Poole Harbour

Nice single, strong cg:

Poole Harbour

The best image I managed to get in frame was this beast of a strike. All strikes here happened at the same instant, and left an after image on my eyes for several seconds:

Poole Harbour

Towards midnight, and after more than 3hrs of constant lightning whilst my area stayed dry, the storm finally began to track towards me. Heavy rain and hail soon arrived so I had to pack away the camera. These are the last few shots I could manage while the rain was only light:

Poole Harbour

Poole Harbour

Poole Harbour

The storm went on to affect some areas of Poole and Bournemouth causing flooding, powercuts and dangerous driving conditions. Several properties were also struck by lightning between midnight and 1 a.m. One of the top 5 storms I've seen in the UK so far, and nothing has come close since. Hopefully I won't have to wait years for another great opportunity.