More than 200 000 lightning strikes were recorded across Queensland's Mackay region from Tuesday afternoon, December 8, 2020, to December 9, according to Ergon Energy, resulting in power outages and equipment damage.
Ergon Energy spokeswoman Emma Oliveri said that Mackay and nearby areas in a 100 km (62 miles) radius recorded more than 76 400 lightning strikes. Moranbah had 35 000 bolts, while Airlie Beach clocked up 30 000.
Talkback caller John Emms, from Schumanns Road in Eungella, told ABC, "That's the best storm I've ever seen, continuous lightning and thunder." He added, "Better than a night artillery barrage, and I've been in one of those before today."
Mount Charlton resident named Dan described his experience as he witnessed the light show. "We had a terrific light show to start with, and then… the thunder was right on top of us."
"We'd just got to bed and got one big flash of lightning and the thunder just straight on top of us and both my wife and myself just jumped, it just gave us that big a fright, it was that loud and so close."
He continued, "I don't scare too easily but it gave us a bit of a shock."
In Glenden, more than 65 000 strikes were recorded in the town's Central Highlands, where the storms caused damage to substation equipment and succeeding power outages.
"We have a lightning arrester that's been damaged," Oliveri stated. "A lightning arrester is there to protect sensitive equipment at the sub-station from more extensive damage."
"So it's done its job-- it's there to divert lightning, but it's been destroyed in the process."
"It's not necessarily the replacement of that equipment that takes time, it's also getting safe access to the network."
Oliveri added that power was cut to 470 customers serviced by the Glenden substation, and crews were working to replace the broken equipment. "I'm very conscious of shift workers who rely on air conditioning."
As of December 9, Ergon Energy said power has been restored to more than 2 200 customers so far.
"Where there is extensive storm damage it won't be a quick fix, so your patience is appreciated while our local crews work into the night to get as many customers safely reconnected as possible."
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