Town stands still at sight of ‘tornado’

Waterspout October 2011
Waterspout October 2011

IT’S a sight that’s more common in parts of America than Bexhill but a mini ‘tornado’ over Bexhill left many residents taking shelter on Tuesday afternoon.

Dozens of local people contacted the Observer after sighting the apparition during a heavy electrical thunderstorm just after 4pm on October 25.

Bob Okines was stuck in traffic on King Offa Way when he looked over towards the sea and saw the funnel. “The sky was black above and white beneath, it was clear what it was. I’ve never seen anything like it before, it’s quite a rare sight.”

Bexhill dad Hadrian Lear was cooking dinner when son Stuart, 11, ran in and grabbed his phone to take pictures. “Stuart had been in the garden and called me to go and look. We watched it for about 10 minutes. It started very small and went up to being quite a large funnel. It touched the sea for about two or three minutes.”

Hadrian is a local weather reader and although it’s not the first time he has witnessed a twister the sighting of the ‘mini tornado’ was a particularly special event for Stuart.

Hadrian said Stuart, a first year student at Bexhill High, is “obsessed” with the weather and has his own small weather station in their garden. On seeing the funnel Stuart said: “Wow, I’ve seen my first tornado!”

The Met office said that Bexhill wasn’t the only part of of the South Coast to be hit with what it described as funnel clouds and water spouts.

Tuesday’s phenomenon was not technically a tornado as it did not touch the ground.

The Met Office spokesman said: “We have seen a number of both funnel clouds and water spouts this week. They have been seen in Plymouth, Bexhill and just off the Isle of Wight.

“The weather conditions required for the formation of a funnel cloud usually have to be showery, so a day when heavy showers or thunderstorms occur. Funnel clouds are caused by the up and down draughts that can occur within deep shower clouds called Cumulonimbus clouds.

“Certain conditions can lead to the rotation of the cloud at its base sometimes a funnel cloud appears.

“Funnel clouds can occur if the right conditions are in place and although are not a sight you see very often, they do happen from time to time.”

The funnel cloud and water spout caused no damage to property.