NARROW ESCAPE: Graham Goscombe, of Gulmarrad, with some of the shrapnel thrown through his backyard when a tree was hit by lightning. PHOTO: ADAM HOURIGAN
NARROW ESCAPE: Graham Goscombe, of Gulmarrad, with some of the shrapnel thrown through his backyard when a tree was hit by lightning. PHOTO: ADAM HOURIGAN

Gulmarrad man horrified as bolt blows tree apart

IN THE blink of an eye, Graham Goscombe watched a 40m tree on his neighbouring property disappear in a flash of lightning.

Sitting on his deck outside, the Gulmarrad man ducked for cover as large shards from the tree, some up to 4m in length, were blown across his property.

"The noise when the lightning hit, it was just huge," said Mr Goscombe.

"It was like a bomb going off. The force of it threw me back in the chair."

The lightning strike shattered the large tree, sending shrapnel-like sections across his property.

One large section of the tree was thrown up into the air like a rotor blade and landed just 5m from where Mr Goscombe was sitting.

"The large piece that's come away, it'd have to weigh over 100kg, and it was being thrown around in the air like it weighed nothing," Mr Goscombe said.

"And even these smaller pieces, they're still over two feet long and heavy, and they've been thrown 50m right across the house.

"Imagine if one of those hit you in the chest. You'd have no chance."

Mr Goscombe said it was a warning to people of the Clarence Valley to stay inside when there was any chance of storm.

"There was no warning at all for the strike, it just went bang," Mr Goscombe said.

"I want to make people aware you don't have to be able to see lightning around for it to hit.

"As soon it's around, just get inside."

The storms were caused by the intense heat of Sunday combining with a trough travelling up the coast.

According to Weatherzone meteorologist Ben McBurney, Maclean felt the brunt of the resulting storms.

"The storms were quite active between 2pm to 9pm," said Mr McBurney.

"There were over 2600 recorded ground strikes within the area from the storms."

But for Mr Goscombe, now faced with the clean-up of his property, one was more than enough.

"I don't want to ever experience anything like that again," he said.

"It was absolutely horrible."

What to do

When a storm is approaching:

 Secure items on the property that could be blown around.

 Park cars under secure cover and away from trees or powerlines.

 Move inside, bringing children and pets with you.

 Unplug and avoid using electrical equipment connected to mains power or phone lines.

 Stay clear of windows.

SES: Stormsafe



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