The report above appeared in the Northern Echo newspaper on 29th May 2019.
The axis of funnel clouds may be vertical, inclined (as seen here), or sometimes long and sinuous. In the UK it is usually tens of metres in diamater (not huge). It is much rarer for funnel clouds to touch the ground and that is when they become tornadoes, but it does happen occasionally. Most UK tornado reports come from The Midlands, Central, Southern and South East England and East Anglia. Our very own Tornado Alley!
If you see a funnel cloud or suspected tornado, you should report it to TORRO (Tornado and Storm Research Organisation). They catalog such stuff and produce stats and mapping.
There are 40 tornadoes per year recorded on average in the UK. England has the highest reported incidence of tornadoes per square mile in the World. That usually surprises a few people, but it’s true!
The longest ground track by a tornado in the UK was in May 1950, when a tornado traveled 107km from Buckinghamshire to Cambridgeshire.
There have been quite severe electrical storms in the North East of England tonight with torrential rain at times. In Ferryhill, the storms started at about 2030 GMT after the weather became very muggy and humid at the end of the afternoon. Late afternoon Dew Point was 19 degC with RH at 92 %. Between 2100 GMT and 2315 GMT lightning flickered almost constantly in all quadrants of the sky, mainly cloud-cloud at first but then some hefty cloud-ground discharges later.
I rang a friend of mine on his mobile to see if he was watching the spectacle. When he answered, he said he was sitting in his car in Aycliffe Village. He said the rain was torrential and we observed the same lightning discharges from about 7 miles apart. While we were
talking, a bolt came to earth about 200 yards from where he was sitting and struck a tree on the village green. He described the lightning engulfing the canopy of the tree with a ‘blue electric shroud’. The tree didn’t split, but the ground around the base was seen to be steaming after the strike.
Two miles up the road is the Plastics Factory where we work on Aycliffe Industrial Estate. He said he could hear the site Emergency Alarm going off and it sounded for 50 minutes. Shortly after this 5 or 6 Fire Engines roared through the village from Durham on the way to the factory. The site emergency alarm had obviously been set off by a strike. It’s unknown at the moment if any damage has been caused as they disable all public phone lines into the site when the emergency procedure is triggered. I’m dreading turning up tomorrow to see the effect this has had on our site computer network.
I’ve seen all colours in the lightning discharges tonight from yellow, through orange to green and purple. There seemed to be some circulation involved with rain coming with a slight southerly drift, then ten minutes later from the north, then back to the south again.
Rainfall at it’s heaviest here at Ferryhill yielded 6.8 mm in 30 minutes between 2100 and 2130 GMT but reported to be heavier in Aycliffe. My next door neighbour finishing his 2-10 shift had to stop on the A167 on the way back as a nearby strike blinded him temporarily and took the streetlights out at the same time, plunging him into total darkness before the next lightning lit his way.
The lights are flickering again, so i’m going to post this before I need to disconnect the modem again for the night !