News archive

Lightning kills four in South Africa (2/1/2018)

Four people lost their lives when they were struck by lightning in South Africa on Sunday, authorities said. Two were killed when lightning struck two villages in Eastern Cape Province, the provincial health department said. Sixteen other people were injured during the strikes, said the department. A separate lightning strike in KwaZulu-Natal Province killed two people and injured three others, the provincial government said. Those injured have been taken to nearby hospitals and were in a stable condition. Most of them suffered severe burns, according to health officials. Heavy storms have ripped through the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal province in the past few days, leaving a trail of destruction. Disaster management teams have been put on high alert following the storms. Authorities have cautioned people against using trees as a cover in cloudy conditions, particularly in the middle of summer when lightning takes place frequently. South Africa has one of the highest lightning ground strike densities in the world. Particularly in recent years, deaths from lightning are growing in rural areas. Thunderstorms, generating big electrical discharges, are common in South Africa's eastern and northern provinces between October and March. At least 100 people are killed annually due to lightning strikes in South Africa, according to official statistics.
Source

Northern Ireland escapes the worst of Storm Dylan despite amber warning (1/1/2018)

Storm Dylan passed over Northern Ireland causing little or no damage despite an amber weather warning being issued by the Met Office. An amber warning, which was in place across Northern Ireland from 2am to 3pm yesterday, is issued when, according to the Met Office, "there is a potential for damage to buildings such as tiles blown from roofs and debris". The forecast was for "some very strong winds" with "a chance of damage to buildings with the potential for injuries and danger to life from flying debris". Disruption to road, air and ferry services were also forecast, along with the possibility of power cuts. However, most areas escaped the worst of the storm and just 500 homes in Craigavon were left without power as a result of the strong winds. A spokesman for Northern Ireland Electricity said a full team of engineers had been put on standby following the Met Office's warning. "He said: "At 6am on Sunday there were around 500 homes in Craigavon without power as a result of the storm, and two thirds of those had power restored by 8am. "From 9am onwards, there were around 100 homes without power. "This was a bad storm but by no means the worst we have had but regardless, we have to use the same emergency plan which we escalate once we were made aware of the amber warning issued by the Met Office." Gusts of 59mph were recorded at Magilligan in Co Londonderry, but the strongest winds not surprisingly were at Malin Head in County Donegal where speeds of up to 77mph were noted. Belfast City Council and Derry City and Strabane Council closed its public parks in the morning as a precautionary measure. The Foyle Bridge in Londonderry was also closed to high sided vehicles for a time but by 9am it was declared safe for all traffic to pass. The storm passed over Northern Ireland and headed towards Scotland where again the havoc did not manifest itself to the degree predicted by the weather forecasters.
Source

Tropical Storm Kills 30, and Nearly 90,000 Flee to Shelters in Philippines (18/12/2017)

More than 30 people were killed and many others were missing after a slow-moving tropical storm spurred floods and landslides in the central Philippines, officials said on Sunday. Thousands of Christmas holiday travelers were stranded, and 89,000 people were forced to flee to emergency shelters because of Tropical Storm Kai-Tak, according to local news reports. Sofronio Dacillo Jr., a disaster response officer, told The Associated Press that landslides in the island province of Biliran had killed dozens of villagers and left others missing after the storm blew over on Saturday. The storm weakened into a tropical depression but moved southwest and picked up speed on Sunday, with sustained winds of 34 miles per hour, according to officials and the police. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said it was trying to confirm the deaths reported because of the storm. The storm, known locally as Urduja, has remained almost stationary over the eastern section of the central Philippines, knocking out power in some areas. President Rodrigo Duterte said he would visit the region. The Philippines is one of the most disaster-prone areas in the world, with about 20 typhoons and storms, mostly from the Pacific, lashing the country of over 100 million people each year, according to The A.P.
Source

...that Gamma rays from lightning found to create antimatter in the air?

Lightning is one of Earth's most energetic events, but there's much more to it than just a flashing fork and the rumble of thunder. Lightning strikes have been known to generate gamma rays, and now a team of Japanese researchers has found that those bursts can create photonuclear reactions in the atmosphere, resulting in the production – and annihilation – of antimatter.
Source

Medicane ZENON formed in the Ionian Sea during the first hours of 17th of November 2017

A medicane was formed during the first hours of 17th of November 2017. The madicane was named ZENON by the National Observatory of Athens. It currently rotates in the Ionian Sea and it is expected to move towards southern Greece in the afternoon of Saturday.
Source

Central Mediterranean battered by lightning on Tuesday 7/11/2017

Once again, Central Mediterranean was battered by lighting. ZEUS, the lightning detection network of the National Observatory of Athens, recorded over 18000 strokes during Tuesday 7/11/2017.
Source

Power Blackouts Caused By Lightning Storm (6/11/2017)

Yesterday‘s storm (5/11/2017) didn‘t go unnoticed by Icelanders, causing minor property damage as well as temporary power blackouts across the capital area, Reykjanes, the Westman Islands and more locations. According to RÚV, the blackouts were mostly caused by lightning that damaged Landsnet‘s distribution system, leading to power failure for over 40.000 residents. Icelandic weather seldom includes thunder and lightning, due to the cooler climate, making last night's occurrence quite rare. At least one lightning hit Landsnet’s Suðurnesjalína 1 around 9 PM, causing a total blackout for the entire area, including Keflavík’s international airport. Another lightning hit Rimakotslína 1 right before 11 PM, causing blackouts for various locations in South Iceland, including Vík í Mýrdal as well the nearby Westman Islands. A transformer in Hafnarfjörður also went out, leading to blackouts for both Hafnarfjörður and Garðabær. The reason behind that particular power-outage is unclear. The Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue (ICE-SAR) reported that over 250 volunteers were at work last night to take care of hundreds of different tasks in the capital area, Reykjanes, the South, the West and the Westfjords. The tasks mostly included attending to roofs, mobile homes, trampolines, signs as well as scaffolding and materials from building sites.
Source

Daedalus Storm caused many damages in Greece (31/10/2017)

Many parts of Greece have been hit last week by a powerful low barometric phenomenon called Daedalus bringing hailstorms, heavy rain and low temperatures. The areas that have been hit the hardest are in central Greece, and in particular in the Fthiotis Region, as well as parts of the Peloponnese. The weather system is expected to hit Athens on Wednesday, when storms as well as a substantial drop in temperature, are expected. The worst problems occurred in the area around the towns of Livanates and Arkitsa, on Tuesday evening when a heavy hailstorm caused disruption on the main highway linking Athens and Thessaloniki in northern Greece! In Peloponnese the town of Katakolo was dressed in white following a hailstorm. The hail reached the seaside. In the town of Marathon; north-east of Athens, the heavy rainfall created chaos on the streets that eventually turned into small rivers.
Source

Over 176,000 lightning strikes witnessed in Australia (30/10/2017)

Over 176,000 lightning strikes were witnessed in Australia's Queensland state due to severe storms, the media reported on Monday. According to the state bureau of Meteorology, the lightning bolts ripped across the night skies on Sunday with more expected on Monday, reports the BBC. The turbulent weather had photographers and storm chasers glued to the skies, with many capturing stunning shots of the lightning strikes. "The sky was electric for hours, certainly more than usual storms," a Brisbane-based photographer told the BBC. "It would erupt in bursts, lighting up the entire sky, then calming momentarily before continuing the electric display." Local energy provider Energexx said more than 4,000 homes were left without power as a result of the storms. The bureau has also has warned of more "severe thunderstorms", "damaging winds and large hailstones".
Source

Heavy electrical activity continues over eastern Mediterranean (26/10/2017)

Thunderstorms dominated the eastern Mediterranean on Wednesday 25/10/2017. The ZEUS lightning detection network of the National Observatory of Athens, recorded over 16000 strokes in the area.
Source

Electric activity over central and eastern Mediterranean continued on Tuesday 24/10/2017

Thunderstorms and electric activity over central and eastern Mediterranean continued on Tuesday 24/10/2017. According to the ZEUS VLF lightning detection network of NOA, more than 6500 strokes were recorded over the area.
Source

7000 lightning strokes over central and eastern Mediterranean on Monday 23/10/2017

A lot of thunderstorms and electric activity yesterday 13/10/2017, over central and eastern Mediterranean. The ZEUS lightning detection network recorded more than 7000 strokes during the day. Hail was reported over western Greece cities and a (not yet confirmed) tornado appearance over southern Greece (Ierapetra-Crete).
Source

At least 4 killed after plane crashes off Ivory Coast amid thunderstorm (15/10/2017)

A cargo plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off West Africa’s Ivory Coast shortly after taking off in a thunderstorm on Saturday morning. At least 4 people have died in the crash, but some of the crew may have survived, according to BBC News. No details have emerged on exactly how many people were onboard the plane. Crews have been able to retrieve the bodies from the wrecked plane as debris from the crash swept back towards the shore. The aircraft took off from Port-Bouet Airport in Abidjan around the midmorning hours on Saturday. Rain and thunderstorms were occurring during takeoff, according to weather observations from the airport. Wind speeds reached as high as 30 km/h (18 mph) during the storm.
Source

Greek island in state of emergency after storm flooding (27/9/2017)

ATHENS, Greece – Greek authorities have declared the northern Aegean Sea island of Samothrace in a state of emergency after storms severely damaged roads, buildings and the drinking water supply. No deaths or injuries have been reported. A government statement said Wednesday that military and civilian teams from other parts of the country have been sent to Samothrace to help repair the flood damage. It said efforts are focusing on repairing the island's road network and water supply. Samothrace's health center and municipal buildings also suffered heavy damage from the storms late Monday and early Tuesday.
Source

15 injured, 2 critically in lightning strike at French festival (3/9/2017)

A lightning strike at a music festival in France has left at least 15 people injured - with two of them said to be in a serious condition. This was reported by the local authorities. Lightning struck in several places at the festival, leaving 15 people in need of treatment including children. According to the statement, on the scene arrived two teams of doctors, 60 firefighters and three patrol of the gendarmerie. Those seriously injured were a woman in her sixties and a 44-year-old man, the BBC reported. Lightning struck a big tent located near a large tree under which festival goers had taken refuge. Those who were injured received emergency first aid on site, before being transferred to hospital. It adds that the chances of being killed by lightning are 300,000 to one. In countries such as the United Kingdom, an average of three people are killed by lighting every year.
Source

Lightning strikes Catatumbo River in northern Venezuela 280 times per hour, 260 nights per year (26/8/2017)

A lightning storm rages almost constantly at the mouth of the Catatumbo River in northern Venezuela, with bolts striking up to 280 times per hour for 10 hours a day, on 260 nights every year. That's 28 lightning strikes per minute for those nights - and about 1.2 million lightning strikes each year. Venezuela, home of the delicious pabellón criollo, has been experiencing the Catatumbo lightning for hundreds of years now. It comes from storm clouds that amass more than 3,200 feet above the spot where the Catatumbo River flows into Lake Maracaibo. According to meteorologists, winds going across the lake and its surrounding swamps are likely responsible for the storms. The swamps are plains surrounded by mountains - the Andes (home of the first cultivation of quinoa), the Perijá Mountains, and the Cordillera de Mérida - and the combination of heat and moisture in the area creates electrical charges that - when met with wind destabilized by the mountain ridges - turns into lightning and thunderstorms. Light flashes from the storm can be seen up to 25 miles away, earning the phenomenon the nickname "The Maracaibo Beacon," and it's been used by ships for navigation as a result. The frequency of the lightning strikes changes both within the year and from one year to the next. October's wet season is peak time for the storms, while they generally calm down in January and February. In fact, there was a break in the storm due to a drought between January and March of 2010, and locals feared that the phenomenon was over for good. The Catatumbo lightning holds a special place in the heart of Venezuelans, because it may have been partially responsible for the nation's independence. An attempted surprise attack led by British navigator Sir Francis Drake on the Spanish army was spoiled by the bright lightning one night in 1595, a story that was later recounted in Lope de Vega's epic La Dragontea a few years later. Years later, in the early nineteenth century, the Spanish army itself attempted a sneak attack on Maracaibo in order to take back the country towards the end of the Venezuelan War of Independence. Again, the Catatumbo lightning lit up the landscape, thwarting the invasion and allowing Venezuela's beloved revolutionary hero, Simón Bolívar, and his fleet to win one of the last and most important battles in the wars against the Spanish for independence. The Catatumbo lightning has also been responsible for producing more ozone at the mouth of the Catatumbo than any other place in the world. Scientists have expressed doubt, however, that this will have any effect on the world's ozone layer, due to the lightning's instability. Its effect on tourism, however, is not in doubt, as sightseers have flocked to the region to join nighttime tours to see the lightning. It's a great addition to any South American itinerary.
Source

Lightning strike Northern Ireland families' lucky escape (24/8/2017)

A Co Down family were left terrified after their home was hit by a "massive explosion" during lightning storms on Tuesday night. Brenda Higgins had put her young son to bed when her house in Katesbridge was struck by lightning. The lightning bolt caused a hole in the roof space of the property. The mother said she had just put the five-year-old to bed when their house was suddenly shook by what she described as a "massive explosion". Her eldest son also had a lucky escape when the lightning bolt hit his bedroom minutes after he had left it. "I was in bed about five or 10 minutes and heard this massive bang," she told the BBC. "From the room, I could see the orange glow of a fire from the other bedroom - thankfully the rain put it out. "My son was very lucky as he had been in the bedroom about half-an-hour beforehand. "He had gone downstairs to watch TV when the lightning struck. "My husband jumped out of bed and my two youngest boys, aged five and 13, were distraught. "I got the younger children out of the house when I realised part of the roof was off." The lightening strike also caused plugs to blow off the wall. "We've called the insurance company to assess the damage, but we'll not be in the house tonight," she said. Brenda, a classroom assistant, and her family are staying with relatives until investigations into the extent of the damage are completed. She added: "There is debris everywhere and we have no electricity. I don't know how long we will be out of the house, but the main thing is that we are all OK and no one was hurt." Meanwhile, another Co Down family also described their terror after believing a "bomb had gone off" when their house was struck by lightning. Gareth McGreevy was watching television with his parents in their home on Drumnaconagher Road, between Crossgar and Ballynahinch, when they heard a loud bang that forced them to evacuate. "We were watching television waiting on the Rose of Tralee result and there was suddenly a massive explosion," he explained. "A phone flew off the wall - it was like a bomb had gone off. "There was an eerie silence and you could smell the burning." Mr McGreevy described the unlucky strike, which severely damaged the roof of the house and caused lights to fall off the ceiling, as "terrifying". "We didn't realise that the roof had been struck until about 15 minutes later when we had a walk around and saw all the debris," he explained. The roof of the property now has three holes in it after the tiles were blown to "smithereens". His sister's car also suffered a few bumps after debris fell on top of it. The family were left in the dark after the lightning knocked out the power. He added: "It was terrifying. It was a surreal experience, and something I'd hate for anyone to go through."
Source

Over 24000 strokes were recorded yesterday (Friday, 28 June 2017) by ZEUS

Over 24 CG lightning strokes were recorded by the ZEUS VLF detection network on Friday 28 of June 2017 over central and Eastern Europe. The areas that were mostly affected was northern Germany, Poland, Ukraine and Moldova.
Source

Over 7000 CG strokes were recorded over Europe on Thursday 29/6/2017

A lot of electrical activity, mainly over East Europe, on Thursday 29/6/2017. The ZEUS VLF lightning detection system, recorded around 7300 CG strokes. The main activity period was from 09:00 to 15:00 UTC.
Source

Lightning sparking more boreal forest fires (27/6/2017)

A new NASA-funded study finds that lightning storms were the main driver of recent massive fire years in Alaska and northern Canada, and that these storms are likely to move farther north with climate warming, potentially altering northern landscapes. The study, led by Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and the University of California, Irvine, examined the cause of the fires, which have been increasing in number in recent years. There was a record number of lightning-ignited fires in the Canadian Northwest Territories in 2014 and in Alaska in 2015. The team found increases of between two and five percent a year in the number of lightning-ignited fires since 1975. To study the fires, the team analyzed data from NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites and from ground-based lightning networks. Lead author Sander Veraverbeke of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, who conducted the work while at UC Irvine, said that while the drivers of large fire years in the high north are still poorly understood, the observed trends are consistent with climate change. "We found that it is not just a matter of more burning with higher temperatures. The reality is more complex: higher temperatures also spur more thunderstorms. Lightning from these thunderstorms is what has been igniting many more fires in these recent extreme events," Veraverbeke said. Study co-author Brendan Rogers at Woods Hole Research Center in Falmouth, Massachusetts, said these trends are likely to continue. "We expect an increasing number of thunderstorms, and hence fires, across the high latitudes in the coming decades as a result of climate change." This is confirmed in the study by different climate model outputs. Study co-author Charles Miller of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said while data from the lightning networks were critical to this study, it is challenging to use these data for trend detection because of continuing network upgrades. "A spaceborne sensor that provides high northern latitude lightning data that can be linked with fire dynamics would be a major step forward," he said. The researchers found that the fires are creeping farther north, near the transition from boreal forests to Arctic tundra. "In these high-latitude ecosystems, permafrost soils store large amounts of carbon that become vulnerable after fires pass through," said co-author James Randerson of the University of California, Irvine. "Exposed mineral soils after tundra fires also provide favorable seedbeds for trees migrating north under a warmer climate." "Taken together, we discovered a complex feedback loop between climate, lightning, fires, carbon and forests that may quickly alter northern landscapes," Veraverbeke concluded. "A better understanding of these relationships is critical to better predict future influences from climate on fires, and from fires on climate."
Source