UK struck by up to 11 tornadoes

Tornadoes ripped through parts of Britain today, leaving a trail of destruction behind them.

Reports suggested that as many as 11 twisters formed separately early this morning as a cold front moved north-eastwards across England.

Local residents reported hearing “horrendous” noises as violent winds tore down trees, pulled off roofs, knocked off chimney pots and in once case overturned a caravan.

Hayley Stroud, 27, described the twister that hit Farnborough, Hampshire, at about 7.30am as “like something out of The Wizard Of Oz”.

Terrence Meaden, deputy head of tornado research group Torro, said five reports were “looking certain” to be confirmed as tornadoes.

They came from Farnborough; Luton, Bedfordshire; Nuneaton, Warwickshire; Breaston, Derbyshire; and Eye, Cambridgeshire.

Dr Meaden said further research may well confirm that another six tornadoes - in Northampton; Nottingham; Scunthorpe; Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire; Long Eaton, Derbyshire; and Ollerton, Nottinghamshire.

Although there was widespread damage to properties and vehicles across England, there were no immediate reports of injuries.

The Met Office said a weather system “conducive” to tornadoes travelled across the country from west to east this morning.

A spokesman said localised winds had gusted up to gale force speeds of 40 to 45mph.

About 20 houses were affected by the tornado which blew through Rother Road, Farnborough, according to a Hampshire Fire Service spokesman.

He said the main damage involved several chimney pots being blown off and the roofs of two garages being ripped up.

Terry Parrott, 55, who lives in Rother Road, witnessed the tornado approaching after hearing the winds building up around his home.

He said: “My dogs began howling. They must have seen something coming. They knew something was up.

“At about 7.30am I was getting ready to get in the shower and I heard this tremendous rushing noise and the winds were just getting stronger and stronger.

“I looked out of my bedroom window and could see this huge whirling thing come through between the two houses and it lifted the garage roofs up.

“It just picked everything up, even stuff that was nailed down. It was incredible, and then after 90 seconds it was all gone, it was all over.”

Earlier, the adjoining streets of Trafford Way and Mallard Avenue bore the brunt of the damage caused when the Nuneaton tornado struck at about 6.15am.

Broken fence panels, shards of tiles and pieces of wood littered both streets as the fire service worked on the roofs of several properties.

Yvette Mawson, whose children’s trampoline was picked up from her garden and deposited 20 yards away beside a block of garages, described the force of the wind as incredible.

The 40-year-old mother-of-four said: “I woke up at a quarter past six and I could hear bangs, crashes, glass smashing and car alarms going off.”

Standing beside the now wrecked trampoline, Mrs Mawson added: “I looked out of the window and I couldn’t believe the weather. I thought something is missing from the garden, then I realised the trampoline had gone.

“It was unbelievable really.”

Cambridgeshire Police said a motorist reported seeing a car blown across a road by a “tornado” in Eye.

A tornado that hit Northampton just before 7am uprooted several trees, one of which hit an empty school bus, the Northampton Chronicle and Echo reported.

Dr Meaden said a series of tornadoes forming across the country in this way was “infrequent enough” but not unprecedented.

Getting 10 to 12 confirmed tornadoes caused by the same weather system happens about once a year, he said.

On average, 33 tornadoes are reported annually in the UK, although the figure can fluctuate dramatically from year to year, according to Torro.

Dr Meaden said the weather system that caused the tornadoes was over Exeter, Devon, at 4am and travelled eastwards before passing out into the North Sea by around 9am.

Torro’s 300-strong team of researchers will spend the next few days talking to witnesses and tracking the damage caused by the tornadoes to build up an accurate picture of what happened.

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