IT was a sharp, swift and powerful bolt from the heavens – the lightning strike which hit Wayne Lennan’s car with such force it lifted it off the ground.
As the skies opened up across the Hunter yesterday a handful of motorists scattered themselves around the Bar Beach car park to view the spectacular light show over the water.
Among them was Mr Lennan, of Wickham, who told the Newcastle Herald the bolt came with such force it felt like his car was lifted from the road. ‘‘It was all a bit of a shock, the storm was coming in and it all happened very quickly,’’ he said.
‘‘[When the lightning bolt hit] it lifted the car off the ground.’’
Mr Lennan’s wife, Agnieszka Lennan, said her husband was fortunate to have walked away unscathed from the 9.25am strike: ‘‘He considers himself lucky he survived. He’s still in a bit of shock, the car is totally damaged.’’
Mr Lennan’s daughter, Courtney Forbes, told the Herald her father had called after the incident to tell her what had happened and said he was OK.
Miraculously, only hours after being close to death, the father-of-two was watching the cricket in his local yesterday afternoon.
The sound of the strike resembled the discharge of a shotgun at close range and could be heard in suburbs as far away as Merewether.
A video of Mr Lennan’s ordeal has gone viral on social media with many astonished there was someone inside the vehicle.
With thunder reverberating around him and lightning cracking down along the coastline, the lightning strike appears to connect with the tiny metal antenna of Mr Lennan’s car, sending the vehicle into a violent shake.
Amazingly the Newcastle financial planner escaped any serious injury and a passing ambulance was on hand to immediately treat him for shock.
As for his car, the news wasn’t too good.
Fenwicks Towing Service came to the rescue to take the car to a mechanic, but the vehicle is considered a write-off.
Many others had had a similar idea to Mr Lennan, the Bar Beach car park littered with those trying to capture the spectacular light show.
Merewether long-boarder Luke ‘‘Flapper’’ Flanders drove the few blocks to Bar Beach car park yesterday morning in search of a couple of lightning strike photographs that he could upload to his Instagram account.
After a few minutes and several failed attempts to capture an image of a strike, the 28-year-old switched his phone to video and began filming.
‘‘I was filming for like 30 seconds and then BANG!’’ he told the Herald from his home yesterday.
‘‘It hit the aerial of a car about 30 or 40metres in front of me and just kind of exploded and orange sparks shot out everywhere.
‘‘I was just in shock and ducked down in the car because it was just so loud.
‘‘The guy got out of his car and checked his aerial, he looked a bit rattled but otherwise he was OK.
‘‘Luckily an ambulance was driving past and it just ducked straight to him, it pulled up next to him and the officers spoke to him and he didn’t appear hurt or anything.
‘‘It was pretty miraculous to have that happen and walk away.’’
Mr Flanders chopped the video down to an eight-second clip and uploaded it to his Instagram account. The video had been viewed by thousands of people on social media and media platforms by yesterday afternoon.
‘‘My Instagram is blowing up ay,’’ he said.
‘‘Heaps of people have been commenting on it and following me, people telling me I’m ‘instafamous’.
‘‘I got a rush from it, I’ll be up there every time there is a storm now but I’ll probably never get another shot like that ever again.’’
Another observer, Mick Cotts, was in front of Mr Lennan’s car but said there was no mistaking the ‘‘massive crack’’ he heard.
‘‘It was about 30metres behind me but it felt like it was right in my ear,’’ he said.
Weatherwatch chief meteorologist Don White confirmed that Mr Lennan was safer to be inside his car than standing next to it.
‘‘The rubber tyres are not conductors so the car acts as a break,’’ he said. ‘‘Once it hits the car it’s gone and he’s safe to get out after one or two seconds.’’
Isolated rain falls dotted around the Hunter and thunderstorms continued after dark last night.
But the fierce lightning and rumbling thunder was more of a show than anything.
Nobbys Head and Newcastle University weather stations recorded the largest showers, with 14 and 12-millimetre falls.
More isolated thunderstorms are expected to hit the Hunter this morning but conditions should improve as the day progresses.
‘‘There could be one or two showers in some suburbs but it will start clearing up on Saturday afternoon,’’ Mr White said.
‘‘So we should see a fine and sunny second half of the weekend.’’