Flash floods and 'tornadoes' as thunder and lightning hits the West Country

Parts of the West Country have been hit badly by flash floods and lightning strikes.

The West Country has been battered by extreme weather - including flash flooding, "tornadoes", hail storms and lightning.

It comes after the Met Office issued a yellow weather warning for thunderstorms and heavy rain on Wednesday 17 June.

These pictures show the severe damage to one house in a Somerset village after it was struck by lightning. Fortunately the occupants had just moved out.

Fire crews from Sturminster Newton, Wincanton and Sherborne attended the property in Templecombe.

One house in Somerset was struck by lightning during the thunderstorm. Credit: Twitter / Sturminster Newton Fire Station

The fire service say the lightning strike in Templecombe was so powerful that if someone had been at home there is no doubt there would have been injuries.

The house next door was badly damaged too. It belongs to Caroline Collins' mother who is in a care home.

Caroline says, "I just thank God my mum wasn't there because the shrapnel blowing from the plaster and brick work was just awful".

  • "A bit like a bomb had gone off" - Caroline Collins describes the damage to her mum's house in Templecombe

Villagers say it happened in a split second during the thunderstorm, leaving half of residents without phone lines and some with damaged electrical equipment.

One of the villagers, Jay Roberts says, "It was like a bomb had gone off and our car alarms went off so we went outside to check on them. The people over the road came over running and said 'is someone in that house? It's struck that house' and we looked and there was smoke coming out so we phoned the fire brigade."

While Daniel Collinson was on a Skype call. He says "There was a massive flash and a bang and I got a shock through my earpiece. The phone line exploded through the house."

The emergency services say, if it wasn't for residents phoning 999 so quickly, the damage could have been a lot worse

  • Watch Victoria Davies' report on the lightning strike in Templecombe

People across the West Country have been posting their pictures and videos of the bad conditions on social media.

Funnel cloud formations - which come before tornadoes - were spotted over Cheddar and in the Chew Valley.

In Nailsea, residents had to contend with flash flooding caused by the torrential rain.

There were similar scenes in Whitchurch, north east Somerset.

Cars are struggling in the flood water in Whitchurch, near Bristol. Credit: Twitter / @davepapamilks

In Backwell, North Somerset, one user took this video of a hail storm.

In Wiltshire, a house in Wroughton was hit by lightning. It caused a fire in the bathroom and there was also flood damage.

In Gloucestershire, schools have had to close because of flood damage.

Rowanfield Junior School, Cheltenham, said "significant flooding" and a "partial roof collapse" meant it could not open.

The Ridge Academy, also in Cheltenham, will be closed for the rest of the week due to "significant water damage" caused by the downpours.

Also in Cheltenham a powerful lightning bolt struck a house and "blew out" residents' TVs.

It hit a house on Swindon Road, St. Paul's, on Tuesday 16 June.

Nobody was injured but the property was damaged and a stretch of the road in front of it has been closed.

A Cheltenham Borough Council spokesperson said the house has been "deemed unsafe with a possibility of collapse".

The road in front of this house in Cheltenham had to be closed after it was struck by lightning. Credit: BPM Media

Nailsworth residents also had to contend with flash flooding - the second significant episode of 2020.

Local business owners were forced to close just days after being allowed to re-open amidst the easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

The heavy rain started on Tuesday 16 June. Since then people in the town have been asking for sand bags and dehumidifiers to help protect them from further damage.

In Bristol there were dramatic scenes as the skies turned black in a matter of minutes.

Some were lucky enough to capture the lightning strikes on camera.

Can we expect more of this?

A yellow weather warning remains in place until 9pm Wednesday evening.

The Met Office has issued several warnings to people living in the West Country, including the possibility of 'danger to life' in some places:

  • There is a small chance that homes and businesses could be flooded quickly, with damage to some buildings from floodwater, lightning strikes, hail or strong winds.

  • There is a small chance of fast flowing or deep floodwater causing danger to life and there is a small chance that some communities become cut off by flooded roads.

  • Where flooding or lightning strikes occur, there is a chance of delays and some cancellations to train and bus services.

  • Spray and sudden flooding could lead to difficult driving conditions and some road closures.

  • There is a slight chance that power cuts could occur and other services to some homes and businesses could be lost.

It has also issued advice on how to stay safe in thunder and lightning.