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An elderly Brodick resident had a lucky escape during a lightning strike which shook the whole of the village earlier this week.
Taking place shortly after 4pm on Monday, the flash, followed by an explosive clap of thunder, was so loud and powerful that it caused widespread damage across Brodick and was heard from as far away as Maidens on the Ayrshire coast more than 30 miles away.
The intensity of the strike and thunder, which many have described as the loudest they have ever heard, knocked out routers and cordless telephones, and even blew telephone sockets off the walls. It even set off car alarms along Brodick shorefront.
Owing to the ferocity and the short time elapse between the lightning and the thunder, many believed their own homes and offices had been hit. However, the actual strike site was at the entrance to Corriegills just outside Carrick Lodge.
Grace Small, aged 92, was busy cutting cake in her kitchen when the bolt made contact with the earth just metres from her house at Tigh Grianach.
The force of the blast shattered the inside pane of her double-glazed livingroom window and had the force to bend her kitchen light fitting, narrowly missing Grace herself.
She told the Banner: ‘It sounded like an explosion, the loudest I have ever heard in all my days. My immediate thought was what on earth was that, was it a divine reprimand for indulging in some cake? At 92, I don’t get frightened easily but I was startled by the very loud noise.
‘The light fitting in the kitchen was blown loose from the ceiling and when I went in to the livingroom, my front window had shattered. It is a double pane window and interestingly enough it was the inner pane that shattered.’
When Grace’s sons, Ian and Murray Small, went to check on their mum they discovered the site of the strike near to her front window. A forked gouge in the grass indicated the exact spot the lightning had struck and the nearby embankment which had been blown apart was testament to the power it discharged.
The glass covering of a nearby streetlight and the metal surroundings also exploded from the strike and the metal cover at the base had been ripped off from its fixtures.
Elsewhere across Brodick, residents and businesses were left without internet or telephone service and many businesses faced disruption which lasted until early on Wednesday morning.
Internet network provider Openreach received a number of reports of internet faults and sent specialists to the island to join local front-line engineers who were making urgent repairs to network equipment damaged by the lightning.
The CalMac port office in Brodick was also affected by the strike and subsequent outage and, for most of the day on Tuesday, they were unable to take card payments or make or amend bookings owing to a ‘technical issue’.
The island’s main supermarket, the Brodick Co-op, was also severely affected by the outage and for much of the day on Tuesday was unable to accept card payments. The lottery machines, the PayPoint machine and even the ATM was out of order.
The lightning strike that occurred on Monday was not part of a series of lighting strikes or a thunderstorm but rather a single lightning event known as a flash. As it is a complex multi-stage process it is not fully understood but what is known is that they are typically miles long and that they occur when two electrically charged regions in the atmosphere or ground rapidly equalise, discharging a huge amount of energy.
The thunder is caused by a sonic shockwave which develops as gases near the lightning suddenly increase in pressure.
An Openreach spokeswoman said: ‘Engineers have now ruled out any major network issues on Arran as a result of lightning, but are working through individual faults where strikes have caused damage. All fault reports still appear to be centred around Brodick.
It is really important that anyone affected reports their fault to their service provider – the people they pay their bill to – as they will arrange for Openreach engineers to investigate each fault and carry out repairs.
‘We are doubling our engineers on the island so we can get repairs done as quickly as possible.’
Grace Small shows the large window that has been taped up after it shattered from the lightning strike. 01_B06lightning01
The scar left on the grass at the site suspected to have been struck by lightning. 01_B06lightning02
Brodick resident Grace Small inspects the damage to the embankment outside her house. 01_B06lightning03
The kitchen light fitting which was damaged by the lightning strike. NO_B06lightning04