Mini tornado hits Lowestoft

Kathryn Cross Violent stormy weather battered East Anglia this morning, with at least one person injured when what is believed to have been a mini-tornado sent a tree crashing down onto a car - trapping the occupant inside.

Kathryn Cross

Violent stormy weather battered East Anglia this morning, with at least one person injured when what is believed to have been a mini-tornado sent a tree crashing down onto a car - trapping the occupant inside.

The freak accident happened in Lowestoft, which appears to have been particularly badly affected by the high winds and heavy downpours.

Some buildings in the town have been damaged, with the chimney of the Crown Hotel in the High Street collapsing and hanging precariously over the road, forcing police officers to close the road.

It is thought that a mini-tornado, lasting around 30 seconds, caused the damage, although that is yet to be officially confirmed.

At about 11am this morning a blue Proton car travelling on Denmark Road was hit by a large falling tree, leaving one person trapped.

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Fire crews from Lowestoft South and Normanshurst were sent to the scene as well as officials from Lowestoft Town Council, about half-a-mile from the railway station, using cutting equipment to help release the female and cut up the tree.

She was taken to the James Paget University Hospital, though it is thought her injuries are only minor.

The police spokeswoman said the road was “completely blocked” after the tree fell “right on the car.”

Noel Johnson, who lives on Denmark Road, said: “It suddenly went all dark and started to rain heavily. You could see the wind, it looked like a drill, swirling around.

“My next door neighbour's washing line went up in the air. I suddenly heard a bang and went outside and saw that a large tree had fallen on the car.”

It is thought that the male driver got out of the car but the female passenger was trapped.

Officers are also at the Crown Hotel where the high winds, and a reported mini tornado, tore roof tiles and brickwork from the building,

The chimney stack has collapsed and is now hanging dangerously from the building's roof.

At another incident in Norwich Road in the town, the fire service received reports of a roof being blown off an industrial building. The police spokeswoman said when officers arrived at the scene they discovered a brick wall had collapsed.

A spokesman for Weatherquest said although they have received no reports of a tornado in the area, the weather patterns throughout the morning are such that a twister is possible.

He said: “It is not unlikely for this kind of weather to result in a tornado at all. The clouds going through the area mean it is quite possible.”

On the A146 Loddon Road at Framingham Pigot a fallen tree this afternoon blocked the westbound road at Bramerton Lane. The tree fell just after 2pm.

With the unsettled weather set to continue well into next week, forecasters are warning the winds could cause enough damage to bring down trees and branches.

The worst of the weather is expected today when gusts along the east coast, particularly around Great Yarmouth and Hemsby, could reach in excess of 60 miles per hour.

The winds were expected to intensify this morning as the storm sweeps across the UK, forecasters said.

Coastguards are issuing shipping warnings for gales up to violent storm force 11 for the Norfolk and north Suffolk coastline and strongly advising mariners to act accordingly or face wave heights over 11 metres.

Ian Haines, watch officer at Great Yarmouth coastguard, said while the RNLI was always ready to assist in emergencies, getting people off boats in those conditions was extremely hazardous.

And while there may be some respite tomorrow the wind and some heavy rain is due to return in the early hours of Monday morning and throughout the week.

Chris Bell, forecaster at UEA based Weatherquest, said while the east will fare better than other regions the outlook was wet and windy.

“The rain we expect for Friday night should clear by Saturday morning but it is the wind that will be the main problem as it increases through Saturday,” he said.

“The coastal areas will have winds in excess of 50 or 60 miles per hour and the rest of the county could see gusts up to 40 or 50 miles per hour.”

He said that although winds on Thursday night seemed strong they actually only peaked at around 30 miles per hour.

“The winds will ease down on Sunday but then another spell of rain is expected Sunday night and Monday morning which could be quite heavy. It will stay unsettled until at least Thursday when it may calm down a bit.”

He said that while the current weather conditions were not unusual for November they had come as a bit of a shock after the near-drought conditions of September and October.

“Most people thought that the nice spell of weather was great but half our customers are farmers and they were complaining every day,” he said. “I spoke to one farmer the other day who said that the ground is still very dry just eight inches under the topsoil so he was very happy that we are now getting some decent amounts of rain.”

The wild weather has already caused disruption in some areas of the country.

Passengers faced delays and cancellations after the heavy rain caused rocks to slide on to rail tracks, closing a busy line in the Chepstow area of south east Wales. Services running between Newport and Gloucester were affected, along with cross-country trains between Nottingham and Cardiff with buses replacing trains.

In Sussex, workers stranded by flood water in four units on the Burrell Road industrial estate, in Haywards Heath, were rescued by boats.

Firefighters were also called out after a tree was brought down on power lines and caught alight.

In Wales, Pembrokeshire was the hardest hit with widespread flooding of the county's road network trapping people in their cars.

Some cross-Channel sailings were disrupted due to the rough seas and winds gusting up to force 10, the Port of Dover said.

High tides, strong winds and tall waves meant there was a risk of sea flooding in Hampshire, West Sussex, Dorset and South Wales, the agency said.

Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service said there had been "no incidents of note to report" overnight but attended a number of reports of cables falling down and arcing.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service said it attended a number of reports of roofs being blown off properties, including a flat roof in Whipton, near Exeter.


The Institute of Advanced Motorists has issued some driving guidelines for motorists to help them cope with the adverse weather conditions.

In heavy rain watch for the shiny patches that are lying water, give yourself a longer gap to other traffic, and be ready to slow down when you need to. Keep the de-mister working and don't soak pedestrians or cyclists by running through puddles.

When driving through floods lower your speed right down and choose the shallowest route available, use the middle of the road if that's where it is and you can. Use a low gear to keep revs high and control speed by slipping the clutch (beware that water could enter the exhaust, so keep the revs up). Make sure you can see the way out before you enter water, and if it is too deep or too fast moving, don't risk it.

In high winds slow down - you are more vulnerable to side winds at higher speeds. Give yourself more space, with plenty of distance between you and the vehicle in front, take particular care when passing large vehicles and motorcycles, and be ready for side winds at gaps in buildings or as you come out of a cutting. Cyclists are particularly vulnerable to side winds.