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Acton/Leiston: Freak storm leaves trail of destruction

10:40 27 January 2014

Several houses in Acton have been damaged by stormy weather. Pictured next to their damaged fence is Peter and Kim Baker.

Several houses in Acton have been damaged by stormy weather. Pictured next to their damaged fence is Peter and Kim Baker.

Residents were still clearing up today after what they say was a “mini tornado” which swept through their communities.

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At Acton, near Sudbury, wind ripped through a small area of Waldingfield Road at around 4.30pm on Saturday, leaving a trail of devastation in its wake, tearing up fences, snapping concrete posts and lifting a roof from a conservatory and a garden shed.

A light aircraft parked at a farm around a mile away also flipped over in the freak conditions.

Allotment holders at Leiston saw their plots ripped to shreds.

Kim Baker, who lives with her husband Peter in Waldingfield Road, Acton, believed it was a “mini tornado”.

She said: “I was in the living room and all of a sudden the wind picked up, I saw a big flash of lightning and within seconds the wind was literally roaring down the chimney and it felt like the whole house was rattling.

“I heard a commotion outside and a loud bang. I don’t scare easily but the force and noise of the wind was absolutely terrifying. The strange thing was that it was literally over in minutes.”

Because it was dark, the couple did not see the full extent of the destruction until yesterday.

Mr Baker said: “I have worked as a builder for more than 20 years including during the ‘87 storm which was a prolonged period of high wind, but I have never seen anything quite as violent and as sudden as this.

“I am not easily fazed but when I went outside, there were literally bricks, tiles and debris everywhere. I was shocked the fence had come down because you need a lot of force to break gravel boards and snap concrete posts.

“A tile off someone else’s roof had come off and broke our conservatory window, which is reinforced glass, and the guy who lives behind us had a tile that went straight through his car windscreen.”

A spokesman for Norwich-based forecasters Weatherquest said the conditions were favourable for a mini tornado and it was possible that it was this that caused the damage.

However further investigation of the debris would be needed to say for certain, and it was more likely to have been “downburst” winds which move in a very straight line.

Also in the Acton area, an aircraft parked on a private landing strip at Cuckoo Tye Farm was flipped over by the tornado.

Rope and weights holding down the Cessna 172 four-seater aircraft were not enough to prevent the force of the winds from turning the plane onto its wings and smashing it.

Peter Miller, who has owned the aircraft for the past 14 years, is devastated by the incident. His wife Elaine said: “The plane did a cartwheel so it completely crumpled. I don’t think it will ever fly again because the back rudder and other vital parts have been smashed.

“We followed the path of the tornado and it has run across the fields from the farm, through Brown’s close and out to Waldingfield Road.

“It is so unfortunate that the plane was directly in the path of the tornado. I’m afraid it’s a complete write-off. It is so unlucky – we are completely devastated.”

Resident Ian MacPhereson said a similar mini-tornado struck part of east Suffolk, too, causing damage to properties in Leiston, knocking down trees, and wrecking plots at the town’s allotments.

He said: “Whole sheds with lawn mowers and rotavators inside were lifted and smashed down several yards away. Double garage doors were sucked out and thrown across Valley Road.”

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