Sudden lightning storm that killed Blackpool boy Jordan Banks was forecast as 'fairly typical' by Met Office

The sudden storm that resulted in the death of Jordan Banks in South Shore yesterday was predicted to be 'fairly typical' by Met Office experts in the hours leading up to the tragedy.

Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 7:54 pm
Flowers and football shirts left in memory of Jordan Banks
Flowers and football shirts left in memory of Jordan Banks

Meteorologists forecast thunderstorms across the North West and North Wales yesterday, but these were not believed to be severe enough to justify a weather warning.

Met Office spokesman Grahame Madge said: "Ahead of yesterday, there wasn't anything about the weather forecast that was considered exceptional from any other day when we have lots of thundery activity. We regarded it as being a fairly typical day, with thunder and showers moving through. They were fast-moving, so they wouldn't have impacted any particular area for any long duration.

"The lightning network across central parts of the UK, including the North West, yesterday registered around 2,400 lightning strikes, which sounds like a big number but is something that we would expect on any typical spring or summer day with thundery activity.

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"What we look for when looking at thundery activity is what meteorologists call convection, which is rapidly rising columns of air, and it's that which formed the central pillar of thunderstorm development. Yesterday the conditions were right for the formation of thunderstorms, which can form very quickly. But there wasn't anything that was considered unusual about that.

"There wasn't anything that distinguished yesterday from any other thundery day, notwithstanding the terrible tragedy which took place."

Jordan, nine, was struck by lightning at around 5.05pm as he played football on the Common Edge playing fields. He was taken to hospital with serious injuries, where he died.

Mr Madge said the average number of lightning strikes across the country was around 59,000 each year. The number of people actually hit by these strikes, however, remains low.

"Obviously one fatality is too many, but it's something that does happen each year in the UK," he said. "Lightning strikes (on people) are less common than they used to be. Although the population has grown over the last hundred years, the number of fatalities has reduced markedly.

"But the last blank year that we had, without any fatalities, was back in the 1930s, so it's tragically an annual event.

"Upon hearing the first rumble of thunder or first flash of lightning, no matter how far away it seems, you are already within range and potentially at risk. We would urge anyone that's outside, especially golfers, fishermen, and anyone near metal, to try and head for cover, and if you can't head for cover immediately then there are things you can do to minimise the risk.

"The best thing to do is to reduce your profile as much as possible by adopting a squatting position, which is recognised as being safer, as it decreases your chance of being struck by lightning and increases your chance of surviving if you are."