LIGHT-UP: A bolt of lightning strikes at McLeans Ridges on Thursday night.
LIGHT-UP: A bolt of lightning strikes at McLeans Ridges on Thursday night.

lightning strikes herald storm season

By NERIDA BLOK

nblok@northernstar.com.au

MORE than 1630 lightning strikes this week have heralded a fierce start to what is expected to be the hottest summer on record.

The Bureau of Meteorology says the spate of storms which ripped through the region for seven days straight was unusual and people should brace themselves for more.

You can also expect hotter nights, with minimum temperatures set to rise.

But don't expect too much relief ? the chances of above median rainfall are less than 45 per cent.

For seven days straight since October 21, the storms have toppled trees, damaged roofs and caused at least one accident.

Police attended an accident on the Pacific Highway at Bangalow on Thursday night when a car collided with a semi-trailer after losing control on the wet road two kilometres south of the Byron Bay Road.

The 39-year old woman driver was trapped for an hour before being taken to hospital.

State emergency workers were kept busy clearing fallen trees from roads and driveways, as well as fixing a number of lifted roofs.

Life was less hectic for Country Energy, which reported minimal damage.

The power company's Far North Coast community relations manager, Mike Hely, said while his linesmen thought Thursday night's storm was the worst they'd seen in years, only rural areas around Casino had been affected.

"And most of them were only out of power for a short time," Mr Hely said.

"That storm mainly struck between 6pm and 9pm and everything was generally re- stored by 11pm."

The Bureau of Meteorology's severe weather forecaster, Michael Logan, said storms at this time of year were normal but 'seven days in a row was perhaps unusual'.

The week's storm activity was generally the result of troughs in north eastern NSW and high humidity.

He said we could expect more storms.

"The indications are there for slightly higher temperatures, particularly minimum temperatures, for the late spring to mid-summer period," he said.

Last week, the Bureau announced 2005 was set to be one of Australia's warmest years on record after the national-average maximum temperature for the January to September period was clearly the highest on record.



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