The New Year’s Day electrical storm

johnboy 2 January 2011 24

photo by john lafferty [Photo by John Lafferty]

Last night was as good a show of the Sturm und Drang as you could possibly hope for.

Readers are sending their photos in so if you’ve got one send it to

(Slideshow below thanks to “alloneword“, and John Lafferty)

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24 Responses to The New Year’s Day electrical storm
Holden Caulfield Holden Caulfield 12:26 am 04 Jan 11

Check the serenity!

NathanaelB NathanaelB 4:51 pm 03 Jan 11

Canberra Times had an article about it today. Seeing it happened early Sunday morning I’m not surprised it didn’t make it into the Sunday paper.

They published an article about it today, featuring a photo taken by my partner:

Deref Deref 1:30 pm 03 Jan 11

😀 Brilliant photos, John – thanks!

Dacquiri Dacquiri 9:39 am 03 Jan 11

Yep — imagine if another capital city (say, London, Washington, or Moscow) had experienced a similar outage to that extent for that period of time: you would expect to see some mention in the news, yes? With an explanation of what happened, some soul-searching in terms of what happened and how to avoid it in future, what its impact was/might be, etc., etc.? Haven’t seen a lot about the actual storm, either, which was pretty remarkable.

I am now absolutely convinced that if aliens land in the middle of Canberra, the only way will we know about it is via RiotACT…and then only if they haven’t taken out the internet!

Pork Hunt Pork Hunt 5:23 am 03 Jan 11

@ #3

You’ll find that this is called sheet lightning and is cloud to cloud and not cloud to ground…

Jethro Jethro 9:46 pm 02 Jan 11

Storm…. lol

lyndeelu lyndeelu 8:08 pm 02 Jan 11

I just went hunting to see if there was any information about what happened to the tv channels last night – still nothing. The only information/speculation I could find was on this (The Riot Act) site. I did miss the tv news this evening tho – so it may have been covered there.
Unbelievable that Canberra Times, SMH etc. have nothing in their internet content about it.

Jclarke Jclarke 7:43 pm 02 Jan 11

The excat same storm came travelling down to the south coast at 2.30am this morning. Waking everyone in the house up. But when shit hit the fan, I was like eh, another thunderstorm, I shrugged and resumed zzz’ing.

GottaLoveCanberra GottaLoveCanberra 5:34 pm 02 Jan 11

Blackout while watching Waterworld? Consider it divine intervention! =)

smont smont 4:27 pm 02 Jan 11

Thunder and lightening very intense over Weston Creek for about 90 mins from 12.30am, accompanied by intense rain. The official BOM figures only showed 5mm of rain at Canberra Airport and 11mm at Tuggeranong, but Weston Creek was definitely much higher (a neighbour’s rain guage showed 26mm).

Mr Evil Mr Evil 3:46 pm 02 Jan 11

Great photos!

There was a huge power spike sometime just before midnight(?) that seemed to take out all the digital channels on the TV – I was watching Waterworld at the time (what an ‘awesome’ movie!) – and this was before the lightning had even reached Canberra.

I sat out under the veranda and watched these two storm fronts pass through, and I don’t think I have seen so many groundstrikes in a storm like this before.

georgesgenitals georgesgenitals 3:25 pm 02 Jan 11

I found it amusing that the Bureau of Meteorology withdrew it’s storm warning at 9.41pm last night…

oddball508 oddball508 3:22 pm 02 Jan 11

Thanks for the photo complements. I posted some more at

Swaggie Swaggie 1:32 pm 02 Jan 11

Driving southbound on the GDE at about 12.15 am and I noticed Telstra Tower was completely blacked out then headed for Tuggeranong was like driving into a scene from Armageddon – wonderful and far far better than any New Years Eve Fireworks. Mt Taylor seemed to take a hammering with multiple direct hits from the lightning.

Dacquiri Dacquiri 12:53 pm 02 Jan 11

Local ABC Radio did not seem to be on air, either — just the usual country music stuff and Sydney-based news, with no mention of Canberra’s broadcast outage. Also thought it was strange that such a major signal fault was not reported by online news by ABC, Can.Times or SMH.
BTW, what added to the impact of the storm was the fact that, if you were driving around at 1am last night, you would have thought you were in one of those ‘entire city wiped out’ movie scenes: no sign of life anywhere. Imagine driving down Wm Hovell, Drake Brockman, Benjamin Way, Belconnen Way, Coulter Dr., etc. with NO cars, no signs of life, and just surrounded by thunder and that incredible lightning. (Husband was loving it, but I insisted we go home when the torrential rain started!)

fgzk fgzk 12:30 pm 02 Jan 11

Dacquiri… In an “emergency” I tune to 666 am for all the local news.

Great photos.

Mr Gillespie Mr Gillespie 12:23 pm 02 Jan 11

Dacqiri (6) WIN News are taking another extended holiday, plus they never show a bulletin on the wankends anyway (with the exception of the 2003 Firestorm). The local news drought here is getting more and more severe and bugger-all seems to be done about it.

steveu steveu 12:04 pm 02 Jan 11

Incredible photos – well done. Around Urambi Hills it seemed to be very focused – double thunder and lightning etc. Most the carnage started around 0110 and finished 30 mins later. I wish I had the sense at the time to get out the video and film the storm.

Dacquiri Dacquiri 12:02 pm 02 Jan 11

See also photos by Nathanael Boehm:

The real question is: why is there absolutely nothing in any news media this morning (that I could find) about a major outage that took out all radio & tv in the nation’s capital? This has never happened before in my 21 years in Canberra. It really made me think about how easy it is to shut down telecommunications (phones still worked, but I was told that the frequency used by emergency services would have been affected). Interesting to consider that in an emergency — such as a bushfire caused by the lightning strikes (and take my word for it, it was extremely scary to be in the middle of it, along Drake-Brockman Dr at 1am…) — there would have been no local radio or tv to issue warnings.

T1G3R T1G3R 11:19 am 02 Jan 11

Oh man this storm had war of the worlds written all over it. My whole house was lit up with light every 2 seconds yet i couldnt hear any thunder/rain. Was hard to get to sleep :/

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