Tornadoes tear through Britain

  • People buy ice-cream from an ice-cream van as huge black storm clouds form over the Cardiff Bay area and heavy rain falls over parts of South Wales. Photo credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

  • Tornadoes tear through Britain
    11.10.2014 15:22

    A tornado is a narrow funnel of fast rotating air with an intense low pressure centre. The tornado often forms from a cumulonimbus cloud, which in turn originates from an unstable air mass.

    Following an unsettled day on Tuesday, Wednesday the 8th of October saw a low pressure system to the west of the UK track eastwards. This drove an occluded rain bearing front across the country. The combination of cold air in the upper atmosphere and warm seas below led to a high level of instability. In addition, the winds changed direction with height allowing a deep rotation to develop… the perfect blend of factors to give birth to a tornado.

    Although weaker than some of the ones capable of developing in areas of the USA, where winds can exceed 300mph and the base of the tornado can be over a mile wide, the ones in the UK are still able to cause destruction of property as the concentrated violent winds pass overhead.

    The areas which saw the tornadoes on Wednesday were Bromborough in Wirral,  Alfreton in Derbyshire, and Rochester in Kent. In the affected areas trees were blown over and the roofs of some houses were ripped off. The strong winds were also accompanied by heavy rain and in places high rainfall totals and local flash flooding.

    Over the next few days the unsettled weather looks set to continue with another low pressure system and heavy rain pushing into southern areas tomorrow evening. The heavy rain will move up the country tomorrow night with more rain, brisk winds and thunder expected. 

    By: John Griffiths