CAPE MAY — A lightning strike on Sunday destroyed a lifeguard stand on a Jersey Shore beach.

"We saw a flash of light and then we saw the bolt and within a half second we heard this large bang that was so loud that customers inside of our store started to scream,"Jesse Lambert, the owner of Coffee Tyme on Beach Avenue, told New Jersey 101.5.

The vivid lightning, caught by a city webcam, hit the stand on Steger’s Beach in Cape May around 5 p.m. as a line of thunderstorms moved across far South Jersey. Lambert added his own footage of the lightning stand damage.

Lambert said a lifeguard cleared the beach just a half hour before the strike.

Lambert compared the sound to that of a head-on car collision happening right outside the store. The stand that was struck is right outside a window that looks onto the beach. Tyler said a new stand was in place by Monday morning.

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Lambert expected that the stand would have exploded but it appears that the wet wood prevented more damage.

The power of lightning is never far from Lambert's mind. The Cape May native said he has seen plenty of lightning strikes in his lifetime and remembers a lifeguard being hit.

Brian Devlin, spokesman for the Harvey Cedars Beach Patrol, said the video serves as an example of why lifeguards get everyone off the beach when storms approach.

"Summer storms are common and it's important for people to quickly leave the beach and head indoors or to a hard topped vehicle as soon as they hear thunder," Devlin said, adding that one of the duties of a lifeguard is to monitor the forecast for potential storms.

"The beach is one of the deadliest spots to be caught during a lightning storm. If you're on the beach, chances are you are likely to be the tallest object in the area, making it more likely to be struck by lightning like in that video," Devlin said.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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