The Birmingham Tornado
Strangely Britain has more tornadoes reported than any other country other than... the Netherlands. Yet most of them are very weak and very short-lived affairs that cause little or no damage, indeed many probably happen where nobody sees them, in open country. That was certainly not the case with the twister that hit the Sparkbrook, Moseley, and Kingís Heath areas of Birmingham on July 28 2005.
Winds are thought to have reached up to 130mph as the tornado devastated a corridor getting on for a mile long, uprooting more than 1000 trees and injuring about 30 people, including three seriously. The strongest known twister in the UK, by the way, happened in Portsmouth on December 14 1810, where wind-speeds may have got as high as 240mph.
Damage estimated at £40 million was caused in the furious progress of the storm, a very rare event as normally a built-up environment stops the formation of twisters. Roofs were lifted; a church so badly damaged that it was later felt necessary to demolish it; cars thrown in the air: it was miraculous that no fatalities occurred.
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