Royston resident recalls ‘bomb-like explosion’ as lightning strikes during stormy weather

Damage to the roof of the AirSpace exhibit at IWM Duxford Damage to the roof of the AirSpace exhibit at IWM Duxford

Friday, February 21, 2014
9:28 AM

Householders in Royston had a narrow escape when a lightning bolt caused a “bomb-like explosion” as it struck the town during the weekend’s stormy weather.

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A blown-apart internet connector box after the lightning strikeA blown-apart internet connector box after the lightning strike

The single bolt struck at 3.30pm on Saturday in the south-west of the town, knocking out several phone and internet connections.

David Hatton, of Echo Hill, Royston, told the Crow: “I witnessed the strike just as I got out of my car on my driveway. I was stunned as a massive bomb-like explosion of white and orange light, and instantaneous huge explosive bang, happened right in front me. It seemed to strike less than 100 metres away from me over tall beech trees in Echo Hill.

“Pleased not to have been directly hit, we entered our house. The power was down and we could smell burning cables. My wife quickly spotted the blown-apart internet connectors and ruined WiFi box. My seven-year old son was a bit shaken inside the car, as numerous alarms went off all along the road.”

Another Echo Hill resident, Gavin Williams, had a picture frame jump off the wall and shatter as the lightning struck.

Echo Hill resident Gavin Williams holding the smashed picture frame which came down during the lightning strikeEcho Hill resident Gavin Williams holding the smashed picture frame which came down during the lightning strike

Royston escaped the worst of the storm, which saw gusts of up to 80mph batter other parts of the country, but was still subjected to high winds, along with heavy rain and hail.

Richard Dajda, who runs a weather station from his home in Sun Hill, Royston, told the Crow: “The wind got up to 40mph over the weekend. To put that into perspective, the highest windspeed we’ve recorded over the last four years is 43mph.”

Mr Dajda added that he expects February to be a record month for rainfall, with Royston having been subjected to 13 days of continuous precipitation.

“We’ve already had 43mm of rainfall this month, and the record for February is 50mm, so I would expect that to be beaten,” he said.

The Imperial War Museum Duxford was forced to close over the weekend after the storm caused structural damage to the roof of one of its buildings. It partially reopened on Monday, though the AirSpace exhibit remains off limits while engineers carry out investigations.

A spokesman for the museum said: “We are now working with the original building contractor to determine the necessary next steps to repair and make good the damage.

“As we are not able to offer visitors the full IWM Duxford experience, we have reduced our admission prices to £12 for adults and £10 for seniors. Admission for children aged 15 and under is free.”

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