Monday, September 24, 2007

It's kind of windy

This morning, it was very dark, windy and rainy outside while the girls were getting ready to go to school. When Clara said that she was afraid that a tornado might be coming (some documentaries kids watch on TV are pretty traumatizing), I told her that tornadoes were very rare in England and even more so at this time of year. Imagine my surprise when I heard on the lunch time news that this region had been swept by tornadoes at the very same time Clara was voicing her fears!

"Tornados tear through the early morning calm to turn Middle England upside down

Tornados tore through neighbourhoods from the South-East to the Midlands this morning, plucking off chimney tops, peeling back roofs and upending trees.

In Hampshire and Bedfordshire, residents saw a twisting vortex of cloud advancing through gardens and over rooftops.

In Warwickshire and Derbyshire there were further reports of tornados, and widespread damage to property. In Cambridgeshire a motorist reported seeing a car lifted off the tarmac and blown across the road.

The tornado research group Torro said that seven other neighbourhoods – in Ilford, Northampton, Lincolnshire, Whittlesey in Cambridgeshire and Nottingham and Ollerton in Nottinghamshire – may also have been struck by tornados. Related Links

At 4am a weather centre in Exeter had registered a cold front moving inland, carrying with it rainstorms and squalls. Three-and-a-half hours later, as it passed over Farnborough in Hampshire, Terry Parrott, 55, awoke to hear his two dogs howling and “a tremendous rushing noise”. He said: “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.”

On the corner of the same street, Hayley Stroud believes that the tornado passed straight over her house, pulling up her chimney pot and dropping it in her neighbour’s garden. “We saw the tail end,” she said. “It was like a twister . . . the branches of the trees were swirling around. It was like something out of The Wizard of Oz.”

Some trees were uprooted entirely and crashed into the road. A bus stop was also plucked from its concrete foundations, its roof coming off and hurtling into a neighbouring garden.

Two streets away Brian Denton, 73, found his caravan parked on its roof. About 30 houses were damaged in the minute and a half it took the tornado to pass through. Tim Vile, of Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, said that the area looked like a battle zone.

There had been similar scenes in Nuneaton. Marilyn Davis, 56, was preparing to go to work when her roof disappeared. Fifteen houses in her street also lost parts of their roofs, the tiles rained down on the road and crashed through car windscreens.

In Luton at 7.30am, Ruth Spall noticed it appeared to be raining horizontally. Mrs Spall, a committed “weather-watcher”, was delighted to see “a funnel about 4m (13ft) across”, spinning round a tree five gardens away. She was less delighted to see that it was travelling towards her house. “It split the tree in half,” she said. “It came over my neighbour’s roof and made a large hole. Then it went across my garden. We have a 10ft trampoline. It took it up into the air and deposited it next door. By that time I was a bit frightened.”

Terrence Meaden, deputy head of tornado research at Torro, said: “The tornadoes appear to have been of a T2 rating, which means wind speeds of around 70-80mph (113-129km/h).”

No injuries were reported and insurers said claims would be a fraction of those from this summer’s flooding.

Britain’s biggest
–– The biggest tornado outbreak in Britain was on November 21, 1981 – 105 in five hours
–– The longest tornado track was on May 21, 1950, when one extended 107km from Little London, Buckinghamshire, to Coveney, Cambridgeshire
–– The widest, on September 22, 1810 at Fernhill Heath, Worcestershire, stretched for 1,609 metres
–– The most intense probably was on September 22, 1810. It tracked from Old Portsmouth to Southsea Common, Hampshire, and demolished houses
–– The deadliest struck on October 27, 1913, in Edwardsville, Glamorgan, and killed six people
Source: Torro (the Tornado and Storm Research Organisation)

Taken from the Times Online

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