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Last Updated: Sunday, 17 June 2007, 17:44 GMT 18:44 UK
Moorland twister caught on camera
Tornado near Alston
The tornado split and reformed, then faded. Photo by Ian Pleasant
A tornado has been caught on camera in rural Cumbria.

The phenomenon, which occurs 30-40 times annually in the UK according to the Met Office, formed near Alston.

Motorist Ian Pleasant from Blakelaw in Newcastle photographed the tornado with his mobile phone after stopping at a transport cafe on Sunday afternoon.

He said it was preceded by a "massive, black rain cloud" and lasted for approximately half-an-hour before breaking apart.

At the Hartside Cafe, a large group of bikers and car enthusiasts were frantically taking photographs, according to Mr Pleasant.

'Strange' sight

He said: "There was a commotion and suddenly everyone started taking pictures.

"We all looked up and saw this massive black rain cloud in the distance and this cone shape was starting to form at the bottom of it.

"Everyone stood watching it for about half-an-hour. It fizzled away slightly before coming back together and reforming.

"It's a strange thing to see."

Tornadoes are among the most violent storms on Earth, with the potential to cause very serious damage.

They are formed when warm, moist air rises and meets cold air and winds within their vortex may be so fast they cannot be properly measured.

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