Moment a lightning bolt slams into the sea off the English coast

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The picture – taken from video footage at Portland, Dorset – reveals a massive arc hitting and lighting up stormy waters on Sunday afternoon.

The shocking scene came as much of southern and central England was battered by thunderstorms and heavy rain overnight into Monday, sparking flooding fears.

Experts at US space agency Nasa estimate that though 70 per cent of Earth is covered by water, just two per cent of lightning strikes occur over it.

The dramatic image was captured by Charlotte Chapman, 32, a stock control supervisor who has just moved back to Portland.

She said: “I’ve missed this so much and taken it for granted when I lived here. I had been watching the storm coming in and managed to get a video and freeze framed this amazing shot.”

Sunday’s storms caused power outages and travel disruption, mainly across the South-east.

Hundreds of homes in Sussex had their power cut, while vehicles were stranded in 2ft of flood water yesterday near Ingatestone, Essex.

Forecasters predict the rest of the half-term week will be milder, with temperatures in the teens, perhaps topping 68F (20C) in the South.

Bands of rain and heavy showers will work their way north.

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