After something of a lean year storm-wise, even taking my trip out to the States into account, the lightning barrage that struck the Sussex coast this July was not only a welcome surprise, but arguably one of the best storms I’ve ever experienced.
A Spanish Plume event was forecast to occur on the evening of July 18th in the south east of the UK, with that warm moist air expected to interact with a shortwave trough overhead. Various lines of storms had already occurred in the south west of the country and, as impressive as they were, didn’t compare to the lightning barrage that Brighton was subjected to that evening.
It was about 10pm, after all but giving up hope that anything would happen, I spotted the first lightning strike light up one of a pair of towers several kilometres out into the Channel, faintly lit by that blueish hue from a post sun set. Over the next 3 hours or so those twins would slowly grow into a mesoscale convective system stretching from Hampshire into Kent that would crawl ashore at a snail’s pace, delivering arguably the best lightning display I’ve ever seen, certainly on these shores.
As the MCS grew so did the strike rate, with 2 to 3 inter-cloud flashes per second interjected by countless CG strikes. One struck a church tower not half a kilometre from my apartment. The Rampion wind farm, 8km out to sea, was hit repeatedly as, best of all, 4 upward streamers that appeared to ‘unwrap’ like a roll of paper from the ground upwards struck them.
The best part about the whole thing was that I didn’t even have to leave my apartment. I sat on my balcony for almost 3 solid hours shooting the whole show as it came ashore. Just brilliant.