Tornado wrecks farmer's barn

A FREAK tornado has ripped through a Suffolk farmyard and flattened a timber barn.

Kate McGrath

A FREAK tornado has ripped through a Suffolk farmyard and flattened a timber barn.

Ian Whitehead, who owns Farm Country Foods in Brundish, near Framingham, described how he heard a low rumbling before the tornado tore through his yard leaving a trail of destruction.

A 30ft timber barn was ripped from its foundations and dumped in a heap. A number of timber beams were flung metres from the scene.

Weather experts predict the tornado winds would have reached 80 to 100 mph.

Mr Whitehead said: “We're just so grateful no one was in the barn at the time.

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“It could have been tragic. There was someone in the barn just an hour earlier.”

He described how the skies went very dark before the tornado stuck on Thursday afternoon.

“It was quite bizarre. The first thing we knew was a rumbling and then we saw a big red bin being flung through the air.

“After that we heard this horrible crack and it literally just picked up our barn, flinging bits of wood through the air. It threw pieces of timber, eight by eight, which you couldn't even lift.

“The tractor which once stood in the barn now looks like it's stood in the middle of the yard.”

His wife Sue added: “My daughter asked to go for a bike ride and I said no because of the big black cloud in the sky.

“Thank goodness I did because she could be on the Yellow Brick Road by now.”

Chris Bell from the Norwich based forecaster Weatherquest said this was the first report of any tornado in Suffolk on Thursday.

“Tornadoes are not as uncommon as you think,” he added. “Britain, per mile, reports more tornados than any other country in the world.

“However we've only had two or three reported in Suffolk over the last year.

“Usually you need to have warm conditions with deep cumulative clouds to create a tornado. On Thursday it was due to the changing directions of the winds up in the atmosphere, along with the fast moving rain showers. To move timber the tornado must have had some force.

“The wind speed in the immediate vicinity would have been in the region of 80 to 100mph. It was probably about five to 10 metres wide.

“We didn't have any more reports of tornados but we had many reports of gusty winds, somewhere between 40 to 45mph.”

TORNADO FACTFILE

� Tornados revolve anti-clockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern. This is because of the Coriolis force - the way the earth's revolution forces winds around weather systems.

� A tornado damaged homes and ripped up trees and electricity lines in Pettistree, near Woodbridge, before moving north towards Leiston in November last year.

� Britain, per mile, reports more tornados that any other country in the world.

� The United States gets between 1,000 and 1,200 tornados in an average year.

� Britain's most severe tornado was the one that destroyed the church of St Mary le Bow and 600 houses in London in 1901. Four of the church's 16-foot long rafters were reportedly driven so hard into the ground that only four feet of them was visible.

� Torro (the Tornado and Storm Research Association) brings together academic meteorologists and enthusiastic amateur storm chasers. Visit www.torro.org.uk.