13:54 Thursday 05 June 2014

'Mini tornadoes' were in fact funnel clouds, weather expert confirms

Written byJORDAN DAY

Excitement from people who believe they had witnessed ‘mini tornadoes’ in Cambridgeshire has been quashed by a weather expert.

Droves of people contacted the News yesterday (Wednesday) to say they had spotted what they thought were mini tornadoes twirling in the region’s skies.

But Professor Hans-F Graf, an expert in climate and weather extremes at the University of Cambridge, has confirmed that they were not mini tornadoes, but in fact funnel clouds.

Professor Graf said: “What people were witnessing in the sky was a funnel cloud.

“Funnel clouds are effectively the embryo of a tornado but a tornado has to touch the ground in order for it to be a tornado.

“Funnel clouds are not uncommon and I can see why people did think they were mini tornadoes as they do look like that from a distance.

“The whirling motion is caused by condensed water being blown downwards from the cloud, but in order for it to evolve into a tornado, the weather conditions would have to be much more extreme - certainly more extreme than what you’d expect to see here in the UK.”

Among those who thought the funnel clouds were mini tornadoes was Lee Hilsden, 28, from Haddenham.

He was on his way to a job at around 10.10am when he spotted one in the sky between Soham and Isleham.

He said: “I couldn’t believe my eyes. I’ve always been interested in meteorology and have always wanted to see a tornado in the sky.”

David Wakefield and Kerry Fitch were among others who got in touch to say they had witnessed funnel clouds in the Witchford and Sutton area.

Latest News

  1. The Adams Heritage Centre in Littleport was transformed into a saddlery shop for the filming. Production starts on local film, The Horseman's Word
  2. Local businesswoman Maria Morgan is organising the Ely Bake Off competition to raise money for the Arthur Rank Hospice Charity. Grab your whisks! Ely Bake Off is just around the corner
  3. Wicken Fen credit: Martyn Fordham 50 things to do with the family in and around Cambridge this summer - part 2
  4. Staff and users at the Atrium Club in Ely took on a special Tour de France challenge to raise money for the Addenbrooke's Charitable Trust. SLIDESHOW: Tour de France record smashed at the Atrium Club in Ely
  5. East Cambridgeshire District Council's HQ. Traveller family's plans for Soham withdrawn at the eleventh hour