Page last updated at 07:49 GMT, Friday, 17 April 2009 08:49 UK

'Tornado' damages city home roofs

Roof damage Photo: Lisa Orford-Morgan
This roof was damaged and was left open to the elements

A tornado is suspected to have damaged the roofs of two houses in Newport, south Wales.

Slates from the homes in Haisbro Avenue, St Julian's were found in gardens several doors away on Thursday.

Veronica Stacey said a neighbour saw the sky turn dark and then watched as the tiles were ripped off the roofs.

A BBC weather forecaster said a funnel cloud creating a tornado could have been possible in unstable air when the incident happened at 1610 BST.

BBC Weather Centre said they believed heavy rainfall "at the top of the scale" had fallen in Newport, which can bring tornadoes.

Mrs Stacey, who returned home from work in the pathology lab at the Royal Gwent Hospital to view the damage, said: "Some of the tiles were found five or six gardens down the road."

Residents spoke of an 'almighty gust of wind', with some finding damage to their properties

She said the "mini-tornado" was witnessed by a neighbour whose garden backs onto her own.

"She said 'The sky went really dark, a kind of yellow colour and then they just came off with the wind'," Mrs Stacey added.

She said both her home and that of her neighbour had large holes in the back of their roofs.

A spokesman for the BBC Weather Centre said it was "possible" a mini-tornado had struck the homes.

"About 1615 BST exactly over Newport we've got a little image of rainfall right at the top of the scale and these little deluges can bring little mini-tornadoes," he said.

"But people can confuse mini tornadoes with big gusts of winds."

Roof damage Photo: Lisa Orford-Morgan
Slates were found a few doors away after being blown off the roof in Haisbro Avenue, Newport

BBC Wales forecaster Derek Brockway said the air over Wales had been unstable, causing it to rise and cool forming large cumulonimbus clouds.

These clouds can grow very tall producing heavy rain, hail and thunder and gusty winds and sometimes tornadoes.

"The air within a thunder cloud is rising, but what goes up must come down," he said.

"So a cold down draught is also produced and this causes the air to spin and produce a funnel cloud.

"If the funnel clouds grow big enough and touches the sea it becomes a waterspout. If it touches the land it's a tornado."

Mr Brockway said tornadoes were more common than was thought in the UK.

"On average we can expect 33 every year, but there are probably loads more that go unreported.

"Most tornadoes in the UK form over the Midlands and southern England but some do occur occasionally in the north and over Wales."



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