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Last Updated: Monday October 02 2006 17:37 GMT

'Tornado' hits Sussex coast

The tornado seen hovering over Brighton pier - picture by Pete Machin

People living on the south coast of England had a shock on Sunday when a 'tornado' swept along the seafront.

The dark swirling funnel was spotted 300m above the sea off Brighton. The stormy cloud lost its strength before it hit nearby cliffs.

It hovered about a mile out to sea and could be seen from Brighton pier.

Eyewitness Peter Machin, who lives in Brighton, said he watched the cloud for 10 to 15 minutes. He said: "I was absolutely gobsmacked."

"It was moving towards Peacehaven and seemed to be getting bigger and bigger as it got closer."

The tornado next to Brighton pier - picture by Pete Machin
The tornado next to Brighton pier

Coastguards put out a warning to ships in the area but there were no reports of any injuries or any ships getting into trouble.

Although most people were calling the cloud a tornado, technically it was known as a 'waterspout' because it didn't actually hit land.

Tornadoes form when a warm wind meets a cold one and this is most likely to happen in the UK during late summer.

Did you take a picture of the tornado? Send it to us, and we'll put the best ones on the website. Click on the box to the right of this story to find out how.

Your comments

I was shocked to hear about it as I live quite near Brighton!

Chloe, 11, East Sussex

I live in Brighton and me and my girlfriend had to run for shelter and it was a shock for both of us. I think this happened because of climate change.

Joe, 15, Brighton

I think this is all happening because of climate change.

Hannah, 13, Skipton

I used to live in Brighton and I love the pier, so for me this is a huge shock. It's also really incredible that something like this has happened!

Caitlin, 12, Newquay

I think people should be more aware and prepared for things like these to happen.

Sophie, 9, Walsall

I think tornados are bad because they do so much damage. I'm glad that I don't live in Brighton.

Catherine, 13, Crawley

I have never seen anything so big in my life!

Julie, 10, Ilfracombe

It sounds really scary and terrible. I feel really sorry for the people effected by it and I feel lucky that I don't live in Brighton. I have never heard of a tornado or a hurricane in the UK.

Kara, 9, Reading

I feel very sorry for the people who live in Sussex. It must have been terrifying. I know I would be!

Jayne, 12, Holmwood

I was going to go to Sussex for the weekend in a caravan but when I checked the weather I warned everyone and we changed plans. We went to Southport instead!

Beckah, 12, Wigan

I saw the pictures in the paper and I have never seen anything like it on the south coast.

Mark, 11, Eastbourne

We were at the pier when the tornado came our way. It was really scary!

Lois and Nadine, 10, Brighton

It was terrifying.

Luke, 9, Brighton

I think tornados are terrible and everytime it's really windy I check outside to see if it's a tornado. I really hate them!

Heather, 11, Kidderminster

I am so shocked first in Leeds now in Brighton.

Andrew, 9, Bingley

I feel very sorry for the people there.

Yara, 11, London

It's scary as tornados do so much damage !

Lizzy, 12, Brighton

I am so glad that nobody was seriously injured. I would dread to think of the possible implications of a serious disaster hitting Britain like that.

Avena, 9, Kettering

I was standing on the pier when I first saw it and it was horrible. Me and my brothers had to run for shelter.

Marcus, 13, Brighton

It looked terrible and I was quite scared.

Hugo, 9, Sussex

It was really horrible but at least now I have experienced what to do in an emergency.

Mobeena, 12, Sussex

I was terrified as I was just enjoying myself but then men were screaming like old ladies!

Bina, 14, Sussex

I saw it on the news and I couldn't believe it was real.

Mitchell, 12, Maidstone

It was horrible I saw it and I did not like it. My brothers were screaming and so was I.

Jasmine, 10, Sussex