South Surrey storm watchers recount shocking events

Two Metro Vancouver men got front row seats to the lightning show of the decade — and lived to tell their tale.

Lesson learned: Stay inside during an electrical storm

Two men in South Surrey decided to go outside for Tuesday's big lightning show 2:08

Two Metro Vancouver men got front row seats to the spectacular lightning show that let loose 1,600 strikes across the Lower Mainland Tuesday — and lived to tell their tale.

Ed Johnson is a drummer and is used to loud sounds, but even he wasn't prepared for the commotion that hit him as he stood outside his home in South Surrey to watch the electrical storm.

"There was just a full frequency assault, loud bang, like a shotgun, only way louder than a shotgun. And it blew me back about three or four feet," he said.

The house had been hit by lightning only a metre from where he had been standing.

"It hit all four corners of the house. And then it ran all through the speaker wires, ran through my Christmas lights, knocked off a bunch of the ends of the Christmas lights," he said.

Ed Johson and Keving Dunning are friends who watched Tuesday's Metro Vancouver electrical storm from a South Surrey porch and backyard. Their advice from now on: Go inside. (CBC)

"It hit the roof and it must have forked and hit anything metal, like the eaves, troughs and the water spouts, 'cause there are burn marks all the way down the water spout."

In a couple of places the strike blew sockets right off the wall.

'Like a grenade went off'

While the porch hardware was being fried, Johnson's friend, Kevin Dunning, was walking around and watching the sky from the ground.

And then lightning hit him.

"It kind of felt like a grenade went off," Dunning said.

"Everything right in my face just turned into sparks."

Johnson said Dunning woke up lying on the ground, in a puddle of rainwater.

"He didn't know what happened," Johnson said.

"He didn't know what hit him, so he just let out this kinda 'yohoooooooo' and then I looked, and then he was on the ground and then he crawled into my house."

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Johnson said Dunning's heart was racing.

Dunning told him that he had lost feeling in parts of his body.

"I was pretty much numb down the left side of my body," Dunning said.

"I had numbness down the right side of my arm, and I had a burning sensation in my foot."

Doctors checked him over and sent him home at midnight.

Never strikes twice?

Dunning said he felt good, thankful, and lucky — lucky, because this was his second brush with lightning.

He said that in 2002 he was on a beach with a friend in Thailand, preparing for a night dive. A fork hit the wet sand and the pair felt a jolt.

"One really, really bright one went off and we both felt it coming up all the way up our legs to the waist," Dunning said.

He said he no longer buys into the old saying that lightning never strikes the same place, or person, twice.

"Don't believe it, and if it's looking like it might: Go inside," Dunning said.

Lightning strikes kill as many as 10 people a year in Canada and injure up to another 150.

Source: Environment Canada

Johnson is also having second thoughts about storm watching, and decided he should go see a doctor as well.

He hasn't been able to hear in one ear since the lightning strike.

"For the first hour I had a high pitched ringing and now I don't have anything," Johnson said.

He said that next time there's thunder and lightning brewing, he'll act differently.

"I'm just gonna stay inside. I'm gonna go in the basement and hide," he said.

With files from the CBC's Belle Puri and Ayesha Bhatty