PlotEditOn 31st December 2003, a storm hit the small village of Emmerdale. As Ashley Thomas was driving back to the village with Louise Appleton as a passenger when he crashed his car near Skipdale Bridge. Ashley and Louise are forced to take a different route to the village after the fallen power pole blocks the road. The power goes out in The Woolpack. Ashley swerves to avoid a tree in the road and crashes the car through the fence and off the bridge. The car bounces from side to side on the grass and over rocks, and splashes into the river. The Dingles got tapped inside their home at Wishing Well Cottage whilst Jack Sugden and his son Andy struggled in the high winds to put their livestock away. as the startled cows began running around the barn at Butlers Farm. The startled cows stampede and smash through the gate, escaping the barn.
Louise remained conscious after Ashley crashed the car into the river, but Ashley wasn't responding. Louise who was trapped couldn't reach her mobile and resorted to cries for help into the storm. Ashley regained consciousness but had one leg is trapped, and couldn't feel anything in the other. Paddy Kirk heard Louise's cries called for help immediately, but the ambulance couldn't get Ashley out without the fire brigade - and only had ten minutes to cut him out. Ashley's wife Laurel Potts kept Ashley awake while they cut the roof off the car and stopped him from losing consciousness, possibly saving his leg, and he was off to hospital with moments to go.Tricia Dingle who was estranged from husband Marlon at the time due to an affair he had with Charity Tate whilst Tricia was in India, and set off to leave the village despite the raging storm. However, when she read a list written by Marlon of the 101 things he loved about her she decided to forgive him. As she approached the Woolpack a bolt of lightning struck an oak tree and it comes crashing down towards her, causing Tricia to trip and fall screaming to the ground, only to see another lightning bolt hit the chimney of the Woolpack directly above her. The whole roof collapses into the pub, and as a huge lump of wall plummets straight down onto her. Marlon saw Tricia lying motionless in the rubble. He's desperately trying to get debris off her when she faintly says "I came back, Marlon".
Tricia was later airlifted to hospital and was later declared brain dead. The doctor informed them that Tricia had sustained massive internal injuries and was in a critical condition. While Tricia lied unconscious, she went into cardiac arrest. The consultant summoned Marlon to his office and Marlon was told that Tricia was brain dead and the only option was to switch off her machine. Marlon was conflicted over this decision until eventually, he decided it was for the best. Tricia passed away on 8th January 2004 and her organs were donated.
Ashley and Louise were taken to hospital where unconscious Ashley's leg has been saved from having to be amputated. Eventually, he comes round and immediately thanks an excited Laurel for standing by him like a guardian angel. In the aftermath of the accident, Ashley and Laurel grew closer which would eventually lead to the two getting married. Bernice Thomas made a short return to the village afterwards.
- The storm took place on the 10th anniversary of the infamous plane crash. The two accidents contained many similarities such as the Woolpack being damaged in both storylines, causing the paralyzing of Chris Tate during the plane crash and the death of Tricia Dingle during the storm, and causing similar car accidents.
- Viewing figures for the special hour-long episode averaged 10.7 million. Ratings soared and the storyline went down in Emmerdale history. The year to come would see the show gain an even higher profile.