12/31/2006 DISC: N. Ireland (Tornado)

On Sunday 31st December 2006 I was out on a mountainside photographing the tail end charlie of a bowing squall line (it went 76 mph on my anemometer before I had to take cover from the hail) when I received a call from member of the Met Office to attend a suspected tornado touchdown near Belfast.

On my arrival:

Properties on Straidhaven Road, Nutts Corner, Crumlin, Belfast were hit by a brief touch down of what I initially believed to have been an F1 tornado.

A resident (name withheld) phoned The Met Office to report the incident. It was from there that Nigel put me on the case.

The resident and his partner reported the sky went black and it got very windy with thunder and lightning. There was a strike very close to the house in fact. From this there was torrential rain which turned to hail...then a loud roar with large trees splintering and debris flying past the house for some 20 seconds...then silence and clear blue sky and sunshine.

He said the winds were unlike anything anything he had ever seen before. Large tree's were bent over at 45 degrees before snapping. Lets not forget there were bare deciduous trees with no leaves for the wind to get hold of.

Branched impaled thick tiled roofs penetrating into the rooms below. The force it must have taken to do this with relatively light branches is considerable (for N. Ireland).

Another resident of Straidhaven Road said it sounded like a bomb going off. Two branches have penetrated his roof! Guttering detached and windows broken.

All that can be seen on the ground is debris. The oil tank was destroyed by the force of a tree branch hitting it...and the gable end of the outhouse have been destroyed by same.

Considerable windspeeds here. I estimated 110 - 120 mph.

Across the field there is some tree damage 100 metres away. This is in the form of broken trees. Adjacent to the houses there are a number of tree branched snapped and damaged on the A26 trunk road.

The next day I returned to see whether this was a brief touch-down or there was indeed a track.

I can tell you there was. A 3 km long and at times 150 metre wide trail of destruction moving in a NNE direction. A very nasty tornado indeed 9for here)...and much stronger than either the (N. Ireland) Aghalee or Rasharkin events last year.

Damage ranged from F1 to F2 on the Fujita Scale with intense tree destruction as it crossed the A26 (Tully Road). By the time it arrived at the house of (name withheld) it was lifting as tree damage is high up only and I could detect no further damage NNE.

It was seen on the Crumlin Road. One gentleman saw everything (debris) going around in a big circle about 20 metres wide. It was in its infancy here and had got nowhere near the 150 metre wide F2 it would become. I can confirm that a 4 ft high stone birdbath in one garden and I quote the occupant..."shot up into the sky and we have not found it yet..."

Picture 34 shows a 4 foot high concrete wall which was pushed over by the then low F1 tornado. At the property in photo 35 the tornado moved 30 ft steel shipping containers around as well as ripping part of the roof off. Beyond that it really intensified dropping into lower ground and accellerating to F2 where it obliterated trees and hedges and moved into open farmland.

Here it clipped the gardens of a bungalow (and damaged roof tiles) where a childrens (large steel bodied) trampoline was lofted across a field and over the roof of a two story farmhouse and into a lane the other side. At this farm house it obliterated more trees (at borderline F1/2) and continued into open land again where it met with properties on Straidhavern Road. Here it lifted.

Comments appreciated...


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