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South Shields premier political blog

Electrical storm knocks out South Shields

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One hour storm causes chaos

It made for an interesting and noisy afternoon, to say the least. I was in South Shields town centre when Mrs. Curly rang me to ask if I could hear rumbling noises sounding like thunder, and I thought she’d lost her marbles, as I looked around me the sky was pretty clear blue and the temperature was a pretty uncomfortable 23 C. No sign of any clouds, least of all thunder. I decided to drive home via the sea front and Mowbray Road before going to pick the children up from school, yet within thirty minutes the weather had completely changed, dark grey thunder-heads had built up over what looked like at least half of the town and a cool breeze was blowing in from the sea.

The first flashes of lightning scared the children in the school yard as the skies turned darker still and the first few raindrops landed with the striking force of paint balls, it was time to dash for the car to the accompanying sounds of screaming children and women. Luckily someone held the doors open for us as we raced from the car to the safety of the house, but odd things were happening to the television set (signal supplied by underground cable) picture on, picture off, picture and sound, then no sound, before it all went dead, just time for a a quick Tweet to tell the world I enjoy this type of weather, and a session of persuasion to get Mrs. Curly and the kids back into the car to see how this storm might look in other parts of South Shields.

They hummed and ha’d as huge flashes of lightning raced across the sky, the thunderclaps following almost immediately, we were right underneath it all, the rain rattled off the roof and the pavements sounding like a timpanic tempest from a tumultuous orchestral concerto for snare drums! By 3:30 we were in the car and heading for the Leas, yet oddly it never crossed our minds that the traffic lights on Sea Road didn’t seem to be working, the rain now made this sodden part of Tyneside resemble Mumbai in the monsoon season, gushing along gullies and gutters looking for the nearest drainage point, lakes were forming on some streets and roadways and the few pedestrians who had not made it indoors to safety were keeping well away from the kerbs. Then there were the under-dressed who had probably spent all day slumbering on the beach enjoying the glorious sunshine, harried into action by the rain and scurrying for shelter in their soaked bikinis and towels under the roof of Michellas, looking bemused and woeful.

I noticed as we passed along Coronation Street that another set of traffic lights were off, and that a well sized crowd of people were sheltered in their under-croft of a car park, yet something still hadn’t dawned on me. I read later that the brand new Asda cannot cope with rain, they forgot to put a roof on it and the aisles were flooding – teething problems. The family, for reasons known only unto themselves, decided that they’d like some chips from the world famous, you can’t beat it, best tasting chippy in Tony Blair’s lifetime, Coleman’s in Ocean Road, but whoa there boy, the road ahead is closed. It still hasn’t occurred to me that it is more than inordinately dark for four o’ clock in the afternoon, the rain continues to beat incessantly and blue lights ahead are flashing in sympathetic rhythm. I find a way gingerly along back lanes to ask the firemen what had happened, blocked drains, huge flood, shops deluged, kids almost enjoying the free swim. By now it was easier to talk the thunder had rolled past and the sky was gradually returning to it’s normal colour.

It had been an hour since the electrical storm started and only now under the shelter of a golf brolly, camera in hand, do I notice that none of the shops have any lights on, there was a wait as the people in Colemans finished mopping up the water, firemen had scurried about with long iron rods, a few swift pokes at the offending drains and the water was whooshing away in no time at all. “Yes we’ve still got some hot chips” they beamed.

We sat and shared the vinegar soaked chips before making our way home, then it struck like a thunderbolt, every traffic light was off, every Belisha beacon was off, every shop window was in darkness, South Shields has no electricity – the strange thing was the smooth movement of traffic, no snarl ups and no near misses either, everyone was perfectly calm and courteous (although I hear it was pretty chaotic at the top of Stanhope Road).

I pondered on how long the outage would last, would I get back on the interwebz today at all, how would Mrs. Curly manage to boil a kettle to make a cup of tea?

Life in the household that is halfway rebuilt, was returned to screaming normality in less than fifteen minutes, but I guess I’d never noticed that South Shields was virtually cut off from the world for around about an hour this afternoon.

Summers, by the way, were always like this when I was a bairn.

Pictures by Curly and Margy, to whom I am very grateful, (a regular visitor to Curly’s Corner Shop Message Board) – click the thumbnails to enlarge.

Somebody in South Shields captured this video, anyone recognise the street?

Video of Ocean Road

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Written by curly

July 1, 2009 at 9:54 pm

2 Responses

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  1. […] huge thunderstorm hit South Shields yesterday afternoon and some of the drains couldn’t cope, time to get out and […]

  2. The first video is recorded by me. The street is Frenchmans Way, next to Horsley Hill.


    July 3, 2009 at 9:26 am

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