UK
07/05/2012 18:21 BST

'Supercell' Storm Brings Tornado To Southern England

A "special" type of storm swept across the country on Monday, bringing with it a tornado to some areas.

The storm, thought to be an unusual "supercell" storm, travelled through the south Midlands, bringing rain, large hailstones, and a tornado in Oxfordshire.

The thunderstorm started in the afternoon in Wiltshire, and moved across Oxfordshire - where a tornado was reported in several places including Bicester, Eynsham, and Kidlington - then moved to Buckinghamshire.

Richard Glazer drove through the tornado with his wife and son on the A34 near Kidlington, Oxfordshire.

"It was very wet, we were just driving on the A34 and looked up and realised one part of the sky was moving in one direction and another in the opposite direction," he said.

"I thought, 'that looks like a tornado!' We pretty much drove through it, we were right underneath it.

"As we drove into it the trees were blowing left to right and as we got through it they were blowing the other way."

The 40-year-old, from nearby Witney, Oxfordshire, added: "It wasn't particularly big but it was amazing to see the change in the environment. It was grey and a bit blurry and then to be hit by something like that. You suddenly realise the force of nature, it's incredible."

Forecasters said it was almost certainly a tornado, and the storm that caused it was thought to be a supercell storm - more commonly seen in the US than the UK.

Brendan Jones, forecaster at Meteogroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: "This particular thunderstorm developed around 3pm over the northern part of Wiltshire, and then gradually over the next three hours that storm tracked through Oxfordshire and into part of Buckinghamshire before eventually dying out before it got to Cambridgeshire.

"That's quite far for one thunderstorm to track.

"At the moment it's difficult to say exactly where the tornado was because while the parent thunderstorm travelled all the way across the south Midlands, it wasn't necessarily producing a tornado all the time.

"There has been more than one report of a tornado beneath this storm. There has also been some quite big hailstones."

He said it was likely the storm was a "supercell" thunderstorm - unlike normal storms, the air in supercell storms is spinning or rotating, he said.

"There are suggestions that this thunderstorm was a special type of storm that we don't get too often in this country. That's a reason why it was able to last for such a long time," he said.

He said the UK had seen plenty of reports of tornadoes and funnel clouds - which do not touch the ground - but not supercell storms, adding: "This one was fairly special."

The storm comes less than two weeks after high winds tore through Rugby in Warwickshire, blowing the roof from one home and damaging others, described by some people as being like a "mini tornado".

Another tornado was also reported to have happened near Halstead in Essex on the same day.

Mr Jones said it was unlikely there would be another supercell storm in the coming week, as they require very specific atmospheric conditions.

He added: "But it's going to remain unsettled, there will be rain and showers around and there is going to be some storms and lightning."