Newcastle retirement village struck by lightning, further serious thunderstorms predicted

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Dark clouds loom over the sky, a flash of lightning suddenly appears, lighting up the heavens with a thundering crack.

The awesome power of lightning is one which cannot be denied, as residents from La Bri Retirement Village can vouch for. This follows residents from the retirement village recently witnessing two lightning bolts hitting two of its buildings.

John Noah, La Bri Retirement Village’s caretaker, explains the first incident took place on December 27, followed by another incident on January 6.

“The incident in December took place during the day, but the one on Monday (January 6) took place during the early hours of the morning while everyone was sleeping.”

Despite lightning conductors spread along the retirement village, the lightning bolts managed to hit two of the buildings and dislodging a handful of bricks. While no severe damage was reported, it seems Newcastillians can expect further lightning activity.

According to the SA Weather Service, South Africa has one of the highest rates of lightning-related injuries and deaths in the world. There are apparently more than 200 lightning-related deaths annually.

With scores of people dying annually from lightning, did you know there are three provinces which truly stand out when it comes to intense lightning?

In 2015, SA Weather Services reported that Mpumalanga, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal had the greatest number of lightning storms in the country. According to SA Weather Service climate information manager Elsa de Jager, these provinces receive the highest number of lightning flashes per square kilometre per year, with approximately 10 and 15 lightning flashes per square kilometre per annum.

Bringing it closer to home, it seems the Amajuba and Zululand district municipalities recorded the highest in KZN. This means that the Amajuba district sees more than its fair share of lightning compared to neighbouring districts.

With SA Weather Services predicting a possibility of severe thunderstorms over KZN today, January 9, what should you do when there is a thunderstorm with a lot of lightning?

By following a few safety measures, you can safeguard yourself and loved ones from possibly being struck by lightning:

  1. Avoid using corded phones and other devices which are plugged into electricity for recharging.
  2. It is advisable to unplug your appliances and other electrical items, as power surges from lightning can cause serious damage,
  3. As plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct lightning, it is advisable to avoid showering and washing dishes when there is severe lightning.
  4. If you are outside, avoid natural lightning rods, such as a tall and isolated tree in an open area.
  5. Get inside a building, your home or car as soon as possible. While you can still be injured if lightning hits your car, you will still be safer than if you were outside.

With the possibility of severe thunderstorms in KZN, be sure to practice caution both at home and while driving.

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