Page last updated at 13:00 GMT, Wednesday, 29 July 2009 14:00 UK

Mini tornado wreaks havoc on isle


Cathie Cassie: 'The van started to shake almost like you were in an earthquake'

A number of cars and homes have been damaged by a mini tornado which hit the Isle of Lewis.

The twister, in Stornoway, flipped one car upside down, narrowly missing the fuel depot near the ferry terminal.

Slates, ridging and iron-work were also ripped off some houses following the weather phenomenon which happened just after 2200 BST on Tuesday.

Lightning also caused power to be lost across the town after residents reported hearing a 10-second blast.

The Met Office said the tornado was a localised occurrence caused by low pressure.

We were physically shaken but our kids were all right
Darren Cassie

Leicestershire couple Darren and Cathie Cassie and their two children had their camper van shaken so hard that one of the children was thrown out of a bunk and only a tractor parked next to the caravan stopped it overturning.

Mrs Cassie told BBC Scotland: "The van started to shake, almost like you were in an earthquake and then it tipped sideways.

"Fortunately we were parked right next to a tractor. It tipped into the tractor and then tipped back again."

Mr Cassie added: "We were very lucky. We were physically shaken but our kids were all right."

The islands council, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said the damage close to the fuel tanks underlined the need to have them relocated away from the town centre, as a safety precaution.

Most of the affected homes were in James Street and the Garden Road area, where a number of cars were also damaged.

Car flipped over
The tornado flipped this car onto its side

BBC Stornoway reporter Norman Campbell said the tornado appeared to travel from the ferry terminal area, up Matheson Road to the Goathill area, where a number of trees had branches stripped off.

The coastguard said it had been aware of a sudden brief rise in the wind and a strange noise.

Lightning also affected a water pumping station in the Sand Street area of the town.

The Met Office said: "Yesterday throughout the day the Western Isles were in an strong unstable southerly airflow, there were fairly frequent heavy showers during the day with some isolated thunderstorms.

"In the evening a trough of low pressure crossed the island which would have increased the convective energy available."

The spokesman said wind speeds recorded at the Met Office reporting station at Stornoway Airport at 2200 BST was 19 knots (22 mph) gusting to 29 knots (33 mph).

He added: "There were thunderstorms in the area. This tornado would be a very localised feature associated with the thunderstorms in the area."

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