Lightning raced across our skies during last week’s heavy storms, but it also stopped to pay us a visit. On Tuesday evening (7th June 2016) lightning struck a 50ft ash tree near Cedar Place, Lower Broughton; cutting it in half only a few meters away from hundreds of local residents on Spike Island.
Most people were caught off guard as weather forecasters predicted the storm would pass by Salford unannounced.
Other areas of Salford were also affected. Firemen were called to Ellesmere Park in Eccles during the night when the rain flooded the basement of a house, where the water was pumped before anyone was injured.
Thunderstorms occur when the atmosphere becomes unstable. When warm air exists beneath much cooler air it creates a positive and negative charge in the clouds, which come together to discharge a huge amount of energy that has built up in the clouds. We call this discharge a lightning strike.
Standing beneath a tree during a storm is widely understood to be a dangerous thing to do, but why? This is because when lightning strikes it seeks out the path of least resistance. The moisture inside a tree trunk serves as an effective conductor to help lightning reach the ground.
This is also the cause of scarring on trees. When struck by lightning the moisture inside the tree becomes turbocharged with super-hot temperatures (up to 30,000 degrees celsius – hotter than the surface of the sun), and this causes the tree to simply “explode” beneath such high pressure.
During a thunderstorm it is always best to stay indoors and avoid any materials that may conduct electricity.
Back in July last year, we wrote about the dangers of Giant Hogweed that grows along the banks of our river and is severe risk to anyone who touches it. Mike Duddy, from Salford Friendly Anglers, one of the Project’s partners, told us, ““The problem with Giant Hogweed is so widespread that it needs to be looked at on a regional scale.””
Here in our part of Salford, we not only grow our own Giant Hogweed but we also get the seeds from all the many tonnes of plants that grow beside the tributaries and main banks of the upstream Irwell.
But Mr Fred Tyldesley, a farmer in his late 70’s, who lives at the Top O’th Brow Farm, Hawkshaw, Bury that is beside Kirklees Brook that runs into the Irwell, has cleared some his land of Hogweed. A visit from Mike was all he needed to understand how he could help all the people below the Brook and all the way down to us. But there was still a lot to go at.
So a few days ago Mike and his team of volunteers went back to Top O’th Brow to finish the job off.
Since last year, Mike and the team trained through the winter and became qualified sprayers of dangerous plants such as Hogweed. This Project paid towards this training and the equipment to make this effort possible.
Having spoken to many householders, farmers and businesses alongside Kirklees Brook, Mike and the team now have permission to spray every plant in the Kirklees area, about 6 miles, this summer. The plan is then to do about 3 miles of the main banks of the Irwell every year.
Mike said, “This is a massive task, with only 5 of us, courtesy of IVSC, doing this work we need support. I have approached Bury Council and the Environment Agency to provide us with their trained manpower to help us. Then we can really make a difference.
The problems that Giant Hogweed are causing on our river banks are only going to get worse if there is not a concerted effort to treat and beat it. But our small team can only do so much.”
So Mr Tyldesley, up there in Bury, started something and Mike and his team, down here, are doing their best to make sure that incidents such as the blisters and burns suffered by a ten-year-old girl on holiday in Scotland, last July , do not happen along the 39 miles (63 km) length of our Irwell.
There is a mega, massive hole being dug at Castle Irwell. It’s forming the 2nd Flood basin that will work together with Littleton Road basin to, hopefully, stop us being flooded again.
But, the really brilliant thing is that we have our own huge wetland and open space that we can all use. With 3km of footpaths going around it, the whole length of the old racecourse.
We will have our own piece of countryside on our doorstep.
Castle Irwell, should be re-opening in September.
So, keep your eye on this space.