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Tuesday, 15 October, 2002, 17:31 GMT 18:31 UK
Storms cause 'mini tornado'
'Mini tornado' damage in Torquay - Picture courtesy of John Maltby
The weather caused damage in Torquay
Picture courtesy of John Maltby

Strong winds and torrential rain will continue to batter central and southern parts of England for the next 24 hours, forecasters have predicted.

A "mini tornado" has also hit the Devon town of Torquay, causing damage.

Flash floods have already caused chaos in areas throughout the South West, with some towns seeing more than two-thirds of their average monthly rainfall in just 24 hours.

There were 12 flood alerts in southern England issued by the Environment Agency, which urged homeowners to monitor the situation closely in case of imminent flooding.

Torquay 'tornado'

Surface water flooding in Devon, Cornwall and Dorset was causing most concern to the Agency, with leaves and debris blocking drains.

What was described as a "mini tornado" caused damage to a church and a number of other buildings in rain-hit Torquay on Tuesday morning.

Part of the roof of Victoria Park Methodist Church in St Mary Church Road blew off, several trees were felled and a street lamp came down, exposing wires.

Roads in the area were closed because of the amount of debris.

Fireman fixes a roof
A church roof was ripped off by the tornado

Before hitting St Mary Church, the weather smashed two shop windows in Union Street, near Torquay Harbour.

It also uprooted a telephone junction box from the street and sent many chimney cowlings crashing into the roadway.

No one was hurt when the high winds hit, but eyewitnesses say the force of it blew many people off their feet.

A Torbay Council spokesman said that a major clear-up operation was under way.

Autumn storm

Forecasters say heavy rain and force seven winds could hit southern and central England on Wednesday with 20mm of rain expected to fall in London alone.

A Met Office spokesman said: "The bad weather is being caused by a slow moving Atlantic depression that is heading north.

"It is quite typical for this time of year and is what we call an autumn storm."

Severe gales have also stopped a fleet of ships from going to Liverpool for the start of the Clipper 2002 Round the World Yacht Race.

Motorists warned

The fleet is stuck in Falmouth, Cornwall, from where it was meant to leave on Tuesday morning.

Motorists taking to the roads in the next two days have been warned by the AA to be prepare for the bad weather, adjusting their speed accordingly.

Dunkeswell near Exeter saw 65 millimetres of rain fall in just 24 hours - more than two-thirds the average monthly total for the area.

More that 50 millimetres of rain fell in west Cornwall over eight hours on Saturday night to give localised flooding in the St Ives and Penryn areas.

High winds in south Devon also caused the closure of the 13-mile sea front at Torbay as 50 mph winds and a high tide meant waves breaking over the land.


Click here to go to Devon

Click here to go to BBC Cornwall
See also:

14 Oct 02 | England
14 Oct 02 | Wales
14 Oct 02 | Wales
13 Oct 02 | England
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