Bolt out of the blue as freak weather hits region
A huge lightning bolt strikes as freak weather batters the West Midlands.
This amazing picture was captured by Walsall resident David Mottram, from his garden in Blakenall.
The storm left chaos and destruction in its wake. Giant hailstones, heavy downpours and booming thunder left homes damaged and communities shaken at the weekend.
And the extreme weather looks likely to continue – with snow on the way.
- Stourbridge homes evacuated after lightning strike sparks fire
- Lightning strikes over plane at Wolverhampton airport
The astonishing scenes on Saturday afternoon saw two houses in Stourbridge directly struck by lightning, causing a major roof fire.
A woman was treated for smoke inhalation after the strike at the homes in Oakfield Road, Wollescote, but no one was injured.
Meanwhile, a wooden floor inside the Catholic St Michael and the Holy Angels Church in High Street, West Bromwich, was set alight after the steeple was struck by lightning.
It was caused after a metal Christmas decoration leaning against lead framed windows conducted the electricity from the lightning.
And in Cotwall End Road in Sedgley, an electric supply meter exploded after a house was also hit by lightning, causing two fires inside the detached property.
In Wolverhampton city centre businesses also experienced power cuts but Western Power Distribution said all electricity was restored within two hours.
And an incredible image of an aeroplane being hit by a bolt of lightning at Halfpenny Green airfield was caught by control tower worker Paul Bunch.
The 43-year-old said: "I couldn't believe when I got the picture, it really looks like the plane has been hit by the bolt, it is incredible.
"I saw a few flashes at first and then decided to get my camera out.
"The pilot was visiting from another airfield and he was turning his plane around on the runway when the winds changed direction.
More than 20 firefighters responded to the Oakfield Road lightning strike after being called to the scene at 2.50pm.
The lightning first hit Dave and Sonya Simmonds' home before striking further down the street. Mr and Mrs Simmonds were shopping at Aldi when they heard the lightning come down – minutes later, Mr Simmonds' friend called him to say his house had been struck.
"We heard it while in the shop, everyone did, then my mate called me up to tell me he saw the lightning come down on my house," the 55-year-old retired firefighter said. "We drove back and saw the smoke coming up from the street.
"We were lucky it just hit our aerial and took the cabling down."
Many of the couple's electrical appliances have been destroyed, including their two televisions, DVD player, X box game console and central heating boiler.
But Mr Simmonds said: "We just feel lucky – it could have been much worse." Another neighbour, Lee Vivash, described hearing the bang while filling his car at a nearby petrol station before returning to his home to find the street engulfed in smoke and people in panic.
"I was getting out the car when I saw the lightning flash and then heard the thunder and felt the ground shake – everyone around me couldn't believe it," he said.
James Clark took this video of a lightning bolt across the skies in Walsall.
The fire service was called to St. Michael and the Holy Angels Church around 3pm. It took them 20 minutes to locate the small fire by using thermal imaging cameras.
Watch commander Phillip Richards said it was lucky that there were clergy inside the place of worship at the time of the strike. He said: "The priest was in an office at the time and heard a boom and felt the building shake after it was hit. We extinguished it and cut away about one square foot of damaged floor. If the fire had spread it could have been a very serious fire."
The house in Sedgley was empty at the time of the lightning strike but smoke was spotted by neighbours.
Crew commander John Williams and firefighters from Dudley were called to the scene at 4.30pm. He said: "We broke into the garage because the owner wasn't there and found the electrical cupboard on fire. In all two rooms were damaged." In Staffordshire, a large tree fell blocking the the A519 in Swynnerton at the junction with A51, causing severe delays.
Meanwhile, marble-sized hail stones fell over areas of the Black Country in areas including Walsall and Dudley which stopped traffic.
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