Extremely strong thunder and lightning storms moved across Manchester and Scotland Wednesday night, July 1, 2015. It was a sight to behold, according to several tweets. The storm ended the hottest day in July, recorded at 36.7 C. The heat caused Britain to experience a freak geomagnetic storm. Britain became a light show Wednesday night when the storm clouds rolled in after dark.
There were reports of golf ball-sized hail stones. The hail caused damage to vehicles and roofing. Lightning and then fire also destroyed one woman’s home Wednesday in Newcastle. The woman, Lorraine Gibson, 52, however, was not injured.
According to forecasters, more angry thunderstorms could affect the Wimbledon match for a short time before moving toward the north and the heat returns. A spokesman from Wimbledon says there will be extra staff and they have their own first aid facilities on site. Fans should drink lots of water and wear sunscreen, he said. There will be fountains on site and water bottles can be brought onto the grounds as well.
40,000 homes in the northeastern part of England lost power during the violent storms. Power has been restored in County Durham, Tyne and Wear, and Northumberland. However, 7,500 homes are still without power. There were no injuries reported, but the lightning did cause damage to some homes.
When Britain’s freak geomagnetic storm experience was over, people as far south as Cornwall were able to see the magnificent phenomenon, the Aurora Borealis, also called the Northern Lights. Usually, the Northern Lights can only be seen in the very north of Scotland.
Meteorologists predicted that a large portion of the U.K. could see the natural phenomenon because the solar blast made a 93 million mile journey to Earth. Cloudy conditions prevented people in some areas from being able to see the Northern Lights.
A spokesman from the Met Office said there was a viewable active sunspot in the early part of the week. The sunspot grew in complexity, causing many moderate solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs). Early Sunday, a quick CME left the sun and arrived Monday as predicted by the Met Office. The CME created a strong geomagnetic storm that measured a G4 on a scale of 1 to 5, according to the Met Office.
Meteorologist Helen Roberts stated that the storm has left the Sun and it takes 36 hours to reach the Earth, depending on the severity of the storm. Those who are hoping to see more Northern Lights are advised to look in areas that are away from the city lights and where there are clear skies, to give sky gazers the best opportunity to see the spectacle again. Also, wait a minimum of 30 minutes after the Sun sets to attempt to see the beautiful phenomenon. The necessary vantage point is looking north at a clear and wide horizon, according to the spokesman for the Met Office. Generally the best viewing time is between midnight and 3 a.m. as they are only visible in a dark sky.
The Northern Lights are from particles in cosmic rays hitting our atmosphere, which makes them release gases that create the different colored lights. Oxygen will glow green and yellow and nitrogen will glow blue. It is possible Britain’s freak geomagnetic storm allowed more people to experience the Aurora Borealis phenomenon.
The Met Office has forecasted the return of the heat this weekend. Vulnerable groups such as the elderly, people with breathing problems, and children are being urged to keep cool in the heat. Dr. Angie Bone at Public Health England is predicting that the hot weather may cause more deaths than usual, but at this time, it is too early to tell.
By Jeanette Smith
Mashable: After All That Heat, Britain got golf ball-sized Hail and Lightning
Daily Express: Did You See Stunning Northern Lights Across Britain’s Skies During Solar Storms?
Telegraph: UK Weather Heatwave Abates Replaced by Devastating Thunderstorms
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Second photo courtesy of: Moyan Brenn’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Top photo courtesy of: Benjamen Benson’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Third photo courtesy of: Matthew Stevens’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Featured photo courtesy of: PhOtOnQuAnTiQUE’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License