Suspected tornado hits Suffolk
12:25 14 November 2009
VIOLENT storms with up to 100mph winds battered Suffolk today.
At least one person injured when a mini-tornado sent a tree crashing down onto a car in Lowestoft - trapping the occupant inside.
Another incident saw a 160-year-old, 60ft yew tree crashing down to within four feet of a house in Easton, near Wickham Market.
Lowestoft and parts of the Suffolk Coastal area have been particularly badly affected by the high winds and heavy downpours.
Some buildings in Lowestoft were damaged, with the chimney of the Crown Hotel in the High Street collapsing and hanging precariously over the road, forcing police officers to close the road.
It is thought the mini-tornado lasted around 30 seconds.
At about 11am a green Proton car travelling on Denmark Road was hit by a large falling tree, leaving a female passenger trapped by their injuries.
It is believed the casualty has sustained non-life threatening injuries, according to a spokesman for the East of England Ambulance Trust.
Fire crews from Lowestoft South and Normanshurst were sent to the scene, about half-a-mile from the railway station, using cutting equipment to help release the trapped person.
The police spokeswoman said the road was “completely blocked” after the tree fell “right on the car.”
Noel Johnson, who lives on Denmark Road, said: “It suddenly went all dark and started to rain heavily. You could see the wind, it looked like a drill, swirling around.
“My next door neighbour's washing line went up in the air. I suddenly heard a bang and went outside and saw that a large tree had fallen on the car.”
It is thought that the male driver got out of the car but the female passenger was trapped.
Officers were also called to the Crown Hotel where the high winds, and a reported mini tornado, tore roof tiles and brickwork from the building,
The chimney stack has collapsed and is now hanging dangerously from the building's roof.
At another incident in Norwich Road in the town, the fire service received reports of a roof being blown off an industrial building. The police spokeswoman said when officers arrived at the scene they discovered a brick wall had collapsed.
Elsewhere, trees and a wall were also blown over in at Easton, near Wickham Market, while severe winds and rain battered their way through Suffolk.
A 60ft yew tree, thought to be 160-170 years old, came down at the home of Carol Davis causing her wall to collapse at it was uprooted, along with other damage.
Mrs Davis, who was at home with her husband, John, when the bad weather struck at 10.30am, said: “I think it was a mini tornado. It is only ours and our neighbour who is badly affected.
“It suddenly started to rain terribly heavily. My husband said look at that wind and look at the way the trees are all moving.
“I heard a couple of bangs and looked out and saw the yew tree. It had come down on all the outbuildings and smashed our garden furniture.
“The top of it landed no more than four feet away from the house. It was a bit scary when it happened.”
Mrs Davis said she lives in a conservation area and her neighbour had also lost tiles from his roof as well as his greenhouses.
A tree had also been blown down in the car park opposite her home, which has also lost the electricity power supply as a result of the freak weather.
A spokesman for Weatherquest said they thought it was likely a tornado had struck the two areas of Suffolk along with another from the same cell at Benfleet in Essex.
East Anglian weather expert Ken Blowers said to expect a “pretty grim weekend” with periods of heavy rain at times over the next couple of days due to a large depression across the British Isles, coming from the south west.
He said: “Gale force winds will continue for much of today, followed by further spells of heavy rain or blustery showers.”
A spokesman for Essex Police said most of the county had escaped major problems in the storms, although there had been some serious damage to property in the south-east around the Castle Point area.
A spokeswoman said: "We have had some trees down but we do not have any road closures at the moment.
"There have been a number of minor road traffic collisions.
"We would remind drivers to take extra care, especially when there is standing water on the road.
"One of the key things is to slow down."
In some areas of the UK, the gales could be as strong as 75mph, making motorways hazardous for drivers.
The Institute of Advanced Motorists has warned people to allow longer gaps between cars in the rain, drive slower, and watch for large patches of rainwater on the road.
A spokesman said: “Not only are strong side winds and rain predicted, there will be the inevitable local flooding that follows from drains blocked by leaves. These conditions can challenge even experienced drivers.”
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