Tornadoes rip roofs off in central England

LONDON (Reuters) - A series of tornadoes hit central and southern England on Monday, tearing off roof tiles and ripping branches from trees.

Residents watched aghast as the storms twisted their destructive way through towns from Nuneaton in the Midlands to Farnborough in Hampshire.

One witness described the scene in Nuneaton as “absolute bedlam” and said the roofs had been ripped off a row of 10 to 15 houses.

“It only lasted a couple of minutes,” he told Sky News. “It’s devastating.”

Terence Meaden, Deputy Head of the UK’s Tornado and Storm Research Organisation, said the storms were “quite a big event”, second only to those of last December when Britain was hit by at least 12 tornadoes across the country.

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“Some of the places definitely had tornadoes because they were seen -- I would say that we have nine events which could be tornadoes and some of them certainly were,” Meaden told BBC Television.

The Met office said it had had reports of at least four tornadoes in areas including Warwickshire, Northamptonshire and the West Midlands. There were no reports of any injuries.

“When you have winds that are gusting up to 50 miles an hour or so, you can expect there to be quite a lot of damage with branches and tiles being blown off, fence panels coming down and people might even find windows being blown in,” a spokeswoman said.

Strong winds also hit Luton in Bedfordshire.

Last December, a tornado ripped roofs off homes and tore down walls in a residential area of northwest London, injuring six people and damaging around 100 houses.