A ferocious lightning storm in North Wales on Thursday 25th January led to an unprecedented incident when three separate electricity poles on a major power line suffered direct strikes in the Llŷn Peninsula.
The powerful lightning strikes split the wooden poles, causing smouldering and severe damage to the 132,000 volt line, which is managed by SP Energy Networks. The line is one of the most significant in the region, helping to keep the lights on for over 62,000 homes and businesses.
Engineers quickly reconfigured the network and no properties lost power supplies during the storm. However, urgent repairs were scheduled to ensure the overall electricity system could be brought back to full strength as quickly as possible.
Over the course of the weekend more than 20 engineers worked around the clock to replace the poles, and the power line was fully re-energised on Sunday (28th January).
Mark Sobczak, 132kV General Manager at SP Energy Networks, said: “In over 20 years in the industry I have never seen an electrical storm that has made direct contact with three consecutive poles on the same power line. They say that lightning never strikes twice in the same place, but it does seem to be fond of the electricity lines in the Llŷn Peninsula.
“It takes a lot of force to split these poles in half. It was the kind of storm that could have generated enough gigawatts to send a DeLorean back to the future. Unfortunately we didn’t have a time machine though, so we had to respond quickly to keep homes on supply. A team of engineers was also assembled, as well as heavy machinery, and we managed to complete the full repairs quickly. It was a great effort from the team, and the network in North Wales is back to full strength.”
The lightning strikes followed the most recent named storm to impact North Wales, Storm Georgina, which hit on the 23rd and 24th January. Wind speeds of over 80mph were recorded in North Wales, which caused trees to come down and branches other debris to blow on to power lines. Around 4,000 properties experienced some form of power interruption, but over 90% of affected customers had supplies restored within 3 hours.