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Lightning leaves its mark at family home

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A row of buried Christmas lights was shattered after it appeared that lightning struck the yard of a family home yesterday.

Shari-Lynn Pringle said a palm tree was also damaged by the bolt.

She told The Royal Gazette: “About 7.30am or so I heard what sounded like a loud lightning strike, you could tell something had been hit and one of my ears is still ringing from it.

“It was just a loud clap but you could hear electricity in it.”

Ms Pringle, a cohost on The Daily Hour radio talk show, added that she smelled burning and lost power in half of her house in the Knapton Hill area of Smith's.

She went outside later in the morning and realised the yard looked “strange” and that a newly created channel ran along the ground.

Ms Pringle said: “My dad used to have Christmas lights in the path of that channel — instead of him taking them down he just buried them.

“It looked like the lightning picked up the electrical component and followed the path of the lights.”

She added: “The lightning opened up a channel where they were and the lights were just scattered — there are little red fragments all over our yard that used to be Christmas lights.”

Ms Pringle, whose parents Earl and Olney Bean live upstairs from her, said that a 46-year-old “tall, skinny” palm tree was also affected.

She said: “There are palm fronds everywhere, as if a hurricane when through. They are all the way down the driveway.”

Ms Pringle added the loud noise could have been the sound of the lightning hitting the tree, although she added that the family was unable to tell if the tree or the ground was struck first.

She realised later that the burning smell came from her modem, which she said was blown apart after a bolt of electricity ran through the cable.

Ms Pringle said a tripped circuit breaker explained why power was lost in part of the house.

She added: “I have a little butterfly cage, it has metal on the outside, and one of the legs got broken so I don't know how the lightning went, but somehow it hit the butterfly cage.” Ms Pringle said: “I have a lot of cocoons in there, so I'm hoping the lightning didn't affect them.”

James Dodgson, a forecaster at the Bermuda Weather Service, looked at photographs posted by Ms Pringle on Facebook and said that a member of the team would have to visit the home “to properly assess the damage on site in order to make an accurate assessment”.

He added: “However, on first viewing, it does appear as though the palm tree may have been struck by lightning.

“The most likely type of lightning to do this is cloud to ground lightning, more commonly known as fork lightning.”

Mr Dodgson said that there was “convergent flow” in the area around Bermuda.

He explained: “This in combination with a generally rather unstable and moisture-laden atmosphere has helped the active showers and thunderstorms to develop.

“With regards to convergent flow, winds converge near the surface, which then helps the humid air at sea level to rise.

“As the air rises it cools and condenses into clouds. As this process continues, the clouds become deeper and deeper, and once the cloud tops reach approximately the height that aircraft fly at, around 30,000 feet, moderate to heavy rain showers and thunderstorms develop.”

The meteorologist said that 1.3 inches of rainfall was recorded at the airport in the 24 hours up to 9am yesterday.

He added: “However, having reviewed precipitation accumulations island-wide on our radar imagery, it would appear some central and eastern areas may have received over two inches.”

But Mr Dodgson said the weather may moderate over the next few days.

He added: “We see a settling of the weather conditions into this weekend as high pressure builds across our area and we lose the influence of the area of convergence.”

Shocking damage: Shari-Lynn Pringle looks over her damaged yard which was struck by lightning yesterday (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Lightning strike: Shari-Lynn Pringle's damaged palm tree (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Lightning strike: Shari-Lynn Pringle's damaged palm tree (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published August 21, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated August 21, 2020 at 8:10 am)

Lightning leaves its mark at family home

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