Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Northern Ireland weather takes on new twist as 'tornado' hits

Fergie Kelly next to barn and car damaged by 'tornado'
Martin McKenna's amazing photograph captured a funnel cloud reaching for the ground

Mini-tornadoes have caused damage to cars and buildings and heavy hailstones have left towns in Northern Ireland looking like it is the middle of winter.

Yesterday, 10 people at a farm near Eglinton in Co Londonderry had a lucky escape after the roof was ripped off the barn they were working in by what they described as a tornado. A car was also destroyed when a wall collapsed on top of it.

Farmer Fergie Kelly explained they heard a loud bang and the roof started to lift off the barn as they were trimming cows’ feet.

“The shed roof started to lift and all of a sudden the shed roof lifted off into the air,” he said.

Mr Kelly said luckily nobody was hurt.

The bizarre weather has continued across the province and near Glenshane, Co Antrim, Martin McKenna, an amateur astronomer and photographer, captured a funnel cloud.

Mr McKenna said he and a friend “watched in amazement” as it rotated quickly.

The cloud is only classified as a tornado if the rotation makes it to ground level.

On Tuesday, heavy hail left parts of Co Down looking like it was closer to Christmas rather than summertime.

Noel Gibson, who works at accountants R Savage & Co in Saintfield, described the sky as “turning black” at around 11am on Tuesday.

“There was heavy thunder, and the worst hailstones I have ever seen in my life,” he said.

“Everywhere was pure white, like a lovely Christmas scene — except it was June.”

Gareth Harvey, forecaster with Meteogroup, said that hailstones in June is not uncommon.

However, he added a funnel cloud is a little more unusual.

“Whenever there are showers there is a risk of tornadoes but the greatest chance is perhaps during the autumn. It is not something you’d see everyday,” he said.

If you have pictures of the bizarre weather, email: picture|desk@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Factfile

  • The great storm of 1958 in Sussex produced the biggest ever hailstones experienced in Britain. Stones the size of cricket balls fell on local people.
  • In 2007, tornadoes battered several towns in central and southern Britain.
  • In 2008, the biggest earthquake in the UK for nearly 25 years shook homes across large parts of the country. The British Geological Survey (BGS) measured it as having magnitude of 5.2.

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