Violent thunderstorms produce more than 400 000 lightning strikes in 48 hours, Europe


Severe thunderstorms swept through most of Europe on Saturday and Sunday, May 26 and 27, 2018, producing more than 400 000 lightning strikes. One person was killed in Britain and another seriously injured in Germany.

A violent electrical storm swept over the UK late Saturday into Sunday, May 27, 2018, producing up to 60 000 lightning strikes in 24 hours. Some areas of the country received the equivalent of one month's average rainfall in just one hour.

According to AP, meteorologist Charlie Powell said information suggested that there were somewhere between 15 000 and 20 000 strikes across the United Kingdom overnight. Weather forecasters said they had never seen so many lightning strikes from a single storm.

Five properties were struck by lightning in Warwickshire and a phone box burst into flames in Dawlish, Devon, after a telephone pole was also hit by lightning, Sky News reported

Some 17 flood alerts were issued for parts of the Thames Valley and nearly 1 000 properties in Midlands were left without power.

West Midlands police said a man, believed to be in his 80s, died after his car was submerged in water during heavy flooding in Rushal, some 215 km (135 miles) north of London. He was taken to a hospital on Monday but pronounced dead shortly after arrival.

The storm also disrupted flights from Stansted Airport after its fueling system got damaged by a lightning strike on Sunday morning. The event delayed more than 200 planes and canceled 31 departures and 18 arrivals. 

London Fire Brigade said it received more than 500 weather-related calls, most of them due to flooding.

Severe thunderstorms then moved into France and western Germany, causing chaos and seriously injuring two people.

According to Volker Schuette, a spokesperson for Bochum police (Germany), first responders found two women (23 and 21 years old) lying on the ground in the city's Wattenscheid district with their clothing torn down. Paramedics had to resuscitate the 23-year-old and she remains in intensive care with life-threatening injuries. The 21-year-old woman was also hospitalized but her injuries are not life-threatening.

Flash floods in central Germany as high as 1.6 m (5.3 feet) submerged roads and basements while firefighters in the state of Hesse rescued two women who were trapped in their car by a mudslide.

The storms hit following an unusually long stretch of very warm weather this month and were a part of massive thunderstorms that swept over most of Europe over the weekend, producing more than 400 000 lightning strikes.

On May 26, a 'hailstorm of unprecedented violence' hit winemakers in famed Bordeaux and Cognac areas of western France. Some 2 000 hectares (5 000 acres) were affected which could bankrupt some growers, particularly those already affected by a late frost last year.

Featured image credit: NPAS Benson

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