Thousands of lightning strikes over parts of Europe

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Very hot, moist conditions triggered numerous thunderstorms and lightning over parts of Europe in July.

Thousands of lightning strikes over parts of Europe
Date & Time
17 July 08:00 UTC–21 July 08:00 UTC 2014
Infrared Channel, HRV, Day Microphysics RGB

More information and detailed analysis of the feature can be found in the In Depth section.


In Depth

by Ian Mills and Sancha Lancaster (EUMETSAT)

A band of thunderstorms moved from Northern France across Ireland and southern UK during the late afternoon and overnight on Thursday 17 July, bringing heavy rain, thunder and lightning. An estimated 10,114 lightning strikes occurred over the UK and Ireland between 00:00 UTC and 08.43 UTC (Source:

The infrared animation (18 July 00:00–07:00 UTC) shows how parts of the storm system grew in intensity and size, while others decayed.

Download animation (MPG, 7 MB)
Download full resolution image, Meteosat-10, Channel IR10.8, 17 July 19:45 UTC

Over the weekend of 18-20 July a series of thunderstorms hit parts of northern France, before moving over the Channel, hitting parts of South East England, North West England and Wales.

In France at least two people were killed, homes were flooded and thousands left without power when the storms brought lightning, torrential rain, large hailstones and tornadoes.

In the UK one of the worst affected areas was Canvey Island in Essex which was badly flooded.

The Met Office reported that the UK had more than 62,000 lightning strikes over that weekend.


The enhanced infrared imagery shows storms developing over France during the afternoon/evening of the 18th. They can be seen moving north, becoming severe as they crossed into South East England overnight, before moving out into the North Sea early the following morning.

Download IR animation (MPG, 9 MB), Meteosat-10, 18 July 08:00 UTC–21 July 08:00 UTC.
Download full resolution IR image

The animation of HRV imagery (18 July 08:00–19:00 UTC) shows the severe storms over France. Before it gets dark the overshooting tops can be seen.

Download HRV animation (MPG, 2 MB)

Thunderstorms continued over Wales and North East England during the day on the 19th.

Further storms developed over France, moving north and again becoming severe over the extreme South East of England. These storms continued to move up the coast of England before dying out by early morning of the 20th.

The start of the HRV sequence from 19 July 05:00–19:00 UTC, shows the overshooting tops in the storm in the North Sea and in the developing storms over France.

Download HRV animation, 19 July 05:00–19:00 UTC (MPG, 2 MB)

During the morning of the 20th storms again developed over Northern France and South East England, as shown on the Day Microphyics RGB imagery.

Download RGB animation, 20 July 05:00–19:00 UTC (MPG, 2 MB)
Download full resolution image

A week later on 28/29 July further summer thunderstorms brought heavy rain, flooding, lightning and hail to many parts of Europe. The Sigulda weather station in Latvia exceeded the average July rainfall in six hours on 29 July. There were also reports of a funnel cloud at Barcelona airport.

Lyon Saint-Exupéry in France recorded 176 mm of rain in July, more than three times the average monthly rainfall of 50 mm.

Watch the YouTube animation of the storms

See also:

24-hr Meteosat-10 IR animation, 17 July 09:00 UTC–18 July 08:00 UTC (MOV, 73 MB)
VIIRS Suomi-NPP imagery of lightning over UK, 18 July 02:00 UTC (via Theo Gkousarov/Twitter)
Lightning illuminates St Michael's Mount, Cornwall, 17 July (Photo credit: Lee Searle)
Lightning over Brighton pier, 17 July (Photo credit: Max Langran/Twitter)
Lightning storms hit UK (BBC)
Storms cut power to thousands of French homes, scouts struck by lighting (RFI)
Flash floods hit west London as two weeks' rain falls in just one hour (Evening Standard)

Related Image Library cases

Storms over parts of the UK
Thunderstorms over Western Europe
Severe thunderstorms over parts of France
Other thunderstorm case studies

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