Just one week after Vancouver's Celebration of Light fireworks show enthralled hundreds of thousands, Mother Nature demonstrated nothing can match her prowess at lighting up the night sky over Metro Vancouver.

Lightning forked across the region Tuesday evening and struck down more than 1,600 times.

Trevor Smith, a meteorologist with Environment Canada, said the summer storm was expected even though its sheer power came somewhat as a shock. 

"Everything was just aligned perfectly to set off this spectacular light show," he said.

"I guess the expression is we know the pot's going to boil we just don't know where the bubbles will be exactly."

Bursts of heavy rain deluged some areas of the south coast, but no storm warning was issued. The thunder and lightning wasn't accompanied by high winds, hail or rain of any magnitude expected to cause damage and warrant an alert.

The widest impact was felt when thousands of homes lost power.

At the height of the storm, more than 15,000 BC Hydro customers were in the dark, with the hardest hit areas including Burnaby, Coquitlam and Port Moody. As many as 2,500 were still without power Wednesday afternoon.

Jennifer Young, speaking for BC Hydro, said the lightning-related outages were more difficult to resolve than outages caused by trees falling on a line.

"So, with a lightning storm it tends to be smaller outages. Transformers get overloaded and burned out. We've got to replace those, so it takes a little longer to get to all the customers," she said.

Grouse Mountain, on Vancouver's North Shore, was forced to suspend its gondola for about three hours Tuesday night, and several hundred people were stranded on the mountain top. North Shore Rescue sent a team out to the Grouse Grind, to turn back walkers who were trying to come down the trail in the dark.

The storm began moving north and east Wednesday, and Environment Canada issued a severe thunderstorm warning for Prince George.

A severe thunderstorm watch was issued for the entire Okanagan and Columbia regions, as well as the Arrow Lakes, Yoho and Kootenay Parks and the Kinbasket area along the BC and Alberta border.

Close calls

At least two men in Metro Vancouver reported being struck by lightning Tuesday night, and others got very close to the action.

Adam Todd sent CBC News a video of a close-range lightning strike in Coquitlam Tuesday night. Watch it below.

(CAUTION: This video contains strong language.)


With files from the CBC's Lisa Johnson and The Canadian Press