HUGE thunder storms caused chaos in Dorset as a high voltage overhead network was hit by lightning.

The network near Chickerell substation in Weymouth caused an early morning power cut plunging 28,000 homes into darkness.

Supermarket Tesco on Portland was forced to close due to a power cut, with weekend shoppers turned away from the Easton store. The store was able to re-open as normal the following day.

Elsewhere in Dorset, storms continued to wreak havoc with a fire ripping through two homes in Corfe Mullen following a lightning strike. 

The thunder storms also caused the swimming leg of the much-anticipated Ironman Weymouth event to be cancelled due to the unsafe weather conditions. 

The raging storms over Dorset, occurring early morning and late night on Sunday, came after an exceptional September heatwave.

Sleepless readers kept awake by the storms captured some dramatic photography of lightning over Portland, Weymouth, Dorchester and other parts of the county.

The Chickerell substation was struck by lightning shortly after 5am on Sunday, September 17.

Dorset Echo: Chickerell SubstationChickerell Substation (Image: Google Maps)

The substation is one of the main regional substations, so when lightning struck the safety equipment was activated, temporarily turning the power off at the local substations which supply 28,000 properties across Chickerell, Redlands, Weymouth, and parts of Dorchester.

Within an hour, engineers had restored power to around 9,000 of these properties by re-routing supplies.

As part of the supply restoration process teams worked at a number of local sites, including the substation on Nottington Lane in Weymouth.

During this time, Nottington Lane was closed for safety reasons, to allow teams to carry out work on the overhead line nearby.

Within 1hr 40 minutes the team had restored power to all but one of the remaining 19,000 properties, with the one property still disconnected being closest to where the lightning strike occurred.

Power was restored to this property later in the day after repairs to the lightning-damaged piece of equipment had been completed.

A spokesperson from SSEN Distribution said: “A lightning strike on our High Voltage network caused our safety equipment to activate, temporarily isolating power supplies to properties.

“Our engineers worked immediately to re-route supplies to those customers affected, with power being restored to all but one property in under two hours.

“We would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused and reassure everyone that our engineers did all they could to restore the power as safely and as quickly as possible.”

Shortly after midnight on Monday, September 18, in Corfe Mullen, a fire ripped through two homes following a lightning strike.

Dorset Echo: A fire broke out after a lightning strike in Corfe MullenA fire broke out after a lightning strike in Corfe Mullen (Image: Kalum Windebank)

Some 15 people were evacuated after lightning hit the roof of a building in Coronation Way.

Six fire engines raced to the scene with crews from Wimborne, Poole, Hamworthy and Ferndown scrambled.

According to a spokesperson from Dorset & Wiltshire Fire Service Fire two semi-detached homes were significantly damaged with the first floor 'severely damaged'.

Many keen weather watchers spoke of their amazement of witnessing the storms including Ross Johnson who captured a fantastic image of it from his window.

Dorset Echo: Lightning across WeymouthLightning across Weymouth (Image: Ross Johnson)

He said: “It's not very often we get a good thunderstorm; I could sit, and watch lightning all night long. I was hanging my phone out the window for a good half an hour just to catch this.”

Self-professed 'weather fanatic' Dan Wiseby, 38, from Charminster near Dorchester said he was outside filming the storm when a bright flash filled the sky, and over to his left it appeared as if lightning had struck something.

It was at that moment that a widespread power cut took place.

As a result of the storms, sewage has also been discharged into the sea in several locations across the Dorset coast.

The Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) charity has reported on its interactive map that storm sewage has been discharged from sewer overflows in the past 48 hours.

Storm overflows operate automatically, usually releasing stormwater during or after intense rainfall.

Sewage discharges have been reported in Castle Cove and Sandsfoot Castle in Weymouth and Chesil Cove on Portland.

Sewage overflows have also been reported in Swanage, Poole, Sandbanks, Bournemouth and Boscombe over the past 48 hours.

Dorset Echo: Lightning over PortlandLightning over Portland (Image: Daryl Gill)

Poor weather conditions on Sunday morning saw the swimming leg of the Ironman triathlon in Weymouth cancelled.

Ironman organisers said: “Due to the current adverse weather conditions with potential electrical storms in the area, we have taken the decision to cancel the swim. Our priority is the safety of all of our athletes.”

It appears that any hopes that the Indian summer may continue have halted this week with the arrival of unsettled and rather autumnal, changeable conditions.

There will be periods of rain which may be heavy at times, mixed with brighter and more showery spells, alongside often windy conditions and coastal gales could be possible.

Met Office meteorologist Jonathan Vautrey said: “It could be quite an unsettled, autumnal week to come.”

The launch event for a new community garden at St John's Gardens has also been forced to cancel due to wet weather.

Celebrations will instead take place on Tuesday, October 10, to commemorate the opening of the Park Community Garden from 11am-12pm.