Amazing Close Lightning Strike at Gymea Bay: Monday 3rd December 2001
Images copyright John Stevens
Please note that video stills and video clip appearing on this website are copyright John Stevens. They must not be reproduced without first seeking permission.
John Stevens writes:
"The outlook you are seeing is at Gymea Bay, a Sydney suburb looking south towards the Royal National Park and towards Wollongong."
"I was only about 3 metres away from the tree and being so close to the strike, it affected the video for a split second but it's still a great shot hitting the tree. When it did hit, I ducked of course, but in doing so I pressed the pause button just after it hit; then you can see the video come on when I'm inside."
"It was about 2pm Monday 3rd of December 2001 when I viewed the Sydney BOM Radar site to check on changing conditions over towards the NW to SW of Sydney as storm clouds were appearing. On checking the radar it showed the storm front was approaching from the Blue Mountains. In about 10 minutes huge cloud to ground lightning strikes were appearing on the SW horizon. As the storm front seemed to be spreading I observed more cloud to ground lightning strikes stretching from the NW to the south of Sydney towards Wollongong. It was then I grabbed the video to take the lightning strikes over the Royal National Park from my balcony."
"The time was about 2.25 pm when from behind, the lightning hit the oak tree 3 meters in front of me. As I don't look in the view finder of the video camera, I saw sparks fly from the top of the cut branch and in doing so ducked for cover."
"At the time I was taking this video, my wife was taking photos with the still camera and as you can hear my youngest son was with me on the balcony. They were somehow "blown" back inside the door and onto the floor - probably from the loud crack. I can't really remember getting back inside, but my youngest son is suffering a little from trauma - even now."
"The thunder was like a bomb going off and the vibration all around us was unbelievable. The lightning also hit the light which is in the tree; this in turn blew all the fuses in the house, and next door's too. The damage to electrical goods in the house was extensive with sound systems, pool lights, solar heating control box, chemical feeder box, computer, etc being fused. (My Davis weather monitor 11 took a surge but it froze all the data so I couldn't get wind readings when the storm passed through later). Luckily we're insured and alive! Just before the lightning hit you will hear me say 'that was behind us' and that's where the strike came from. Oh!! by the way the Oak tree - well it's dying."
The eight images here show frame by frame stills from the video just before, during and after the lightning hit the tree. Note how the trees light up in frame 2 before going back to normal in frame 3, followed by the overexposure in frame 4 and then the actual bolt.
These stills show damage to the Oak tree where the lightning hit.
From Bureau of Meteorology.
From Bureau of Meteorology.
Updated: 6th September 2005
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