Local BBC Sites

Page last updated at 12:41 GMT, Tuesday, 14 September 2010 13:41 UK
Wild Weather: The 2005 Birmingham tornado
Dr Andrew Russell
Dr Andy Russell
Lecturer in Climate Change at Brunel University

Birmingham tornado 2005 courtesy Birmingham Post and Mail
The T4 measured tornado ripped through the South East part of the city.

Tornadoes are surprisingly common in the UK - relative to our size and more tornadoes are reported in the UK than just about anywhere else in the world.

However, we tend not to experience the really powerful twisters that do so much damage in regions like the Midwest of the United States.

One recent exception to this was the tornado that hit the suburbs of Birmingham on Thursday, 28 July 2005.

Fortunately, no-one died but 19 people were injured.

There was around £40 million of damage.

Scientific study

If the tornado had passed through the city centre it is almost certain that far more people would have been affected.

Birmingham tornado 2005
Roofs were lifted from some houses

Meteorologists still know relatively little about tornadoes because they are very small (typically less than 100m across) and are very dangerous (wind speeds over 250 mph are not unusual) so getting close enough to take scientific measurements is very difficult.

However, in 2005 a large group of scientists were studying thunderstorms in the UK (tornadoes form from the base of thunderstorm clouds) and managed to collect some data on the storm that gave rise to the Birmingham tornado.

So at least we learnt a little more about the science of tornadoes from this event!

On Monday, 20 September 2010 Shefali Oza goes in search of the Midlands most extreme weather in a special TV programme called Wild Weather of the Midlands on BBC One (in the West Midlands) at 19:30.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific