Freak tornado hits Sussex and Hampshire with homes damaged and cars smashed

A freak tornado hit parts of the UK overnight causing chaos as homes were damaged and cars smashed.

Homeowners across Sussex and Hampshire reported tiles were torn from their roofs and fences blown down as the twister tore through the streets.

Winds up to 80mph shook numerous houses in Barton-on-Sea and a 30ft long brick wall collapsed under the strength of the gusts.

Part of a garden shed that had been picked up by the tornado also smashed a hole through the windscreen of a car.

The glass panel of a front door was also shattered by flying debris.

Luckily there were no reports of injuries during the tornado which lasted for a matter a seconds.

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Weather experts say they are unable to confirm for sure whether it was a tornado but said it was 'probable'.

It made a 300 yard path through Barton-on-Sea, affecting suburban homes on Seaward Avenue, Sea Road and Keysworth Avenue.

Local resident Dave Thorne, 66, said: "We were woken at around 4am and it was like a sci-fi movie. There was an almighty crash, it sounded like Armageddon was going on outside.

"It went very quickly from just normal storm and wind noise to sounding like a freight train was hitting our window.

"There was a loud crack and the whole house felt like it was buffering.

"Our bedroom windows have been pushed in, the UPVC support structures are broken and we have fence and roof damage.

"We'll have to pay to for a new fence and we have people from the insurance company coming round later about the other damage.

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"The main thing is that nobody was injured as far as we know but it was really scary while it was going on."

Mike Bird, 65, said: "I was out for the count but my wife woke up and said 'what the hell was that?'

"It was like a Big Bang that shook the whole house.

"It was hammering it down with rain. We went out this morning and our Renault Scenic has a big hole in the rear windscreen from where it had been hit by flying debris.

"We think it was struck by part of someone's shed.

"We have a hole in a roof from where roof tiles have come off."

Annette O'Flynn said: "Our garden shed was totally demolished in Seaward Avenue. It felt like the whole house moved and it was very scary."

Stephen Maskell said: "We were woken by something which sounded like an express train thundering past the house and gravel hitting the windows.

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"It brought down our front fence including snapping a concrete post in half, breaking ridge tiles on the roof and dislodging tiles.

"It was very scary indeed."

Radar images taken at the time suggest that the damage was caused by a tornado and the incident has been reported to Torro – The UK's leading tornado and storm research group.

Among their ranks is weather forecaster Paul Knightley, who works for DTN Weather – the organisation behind the BBC's forecasts.

Mr Knightley said it was 'probable' a tornado had caused the damage and that a member of Torro would visit the site soon to investigate further.

He said: "There were big and heavy showers at the time in question and the damage reported does tie up.

"When damage is in a clear track – as appears to be the case here – it is more often than not the result of a tornado.

"I would say it is probable there was one here and the the type of damage reported is consistent with weak, low level tornadoes.

"It's impossible to say what the exact wind speeds were at the time but my guess would be between 50mph and 80mph."

A spokesman for the Met Office said: "We cannot say definitely if a tornado formed or not. The weather conditions at this time were conducive to the formation of funnel clouds or tornadoes.

"Around 30 tornadoes a year are reported in the UK. These are typically small and short-lived, but can cause structural damage if they pass over built-up areas."

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