Hayling Island storm was 'typical tornado'
A freak storm that damaged homes on Hayling Island, in Hampshire, was "typical of a tornado", experts said.
TORRO (Tornado and Storm Research Organisation), which keeps records of severe weather, said the narrow tornado came off the sea as a waterspout.
Dr Terence Meaden, from TORRO, said it first hit the coastguard station on Sea Front on Sunday and its path stretched at least 0.6 miles (1km).
About 100 homes were damaged, along with caravans, beach huts and trees.
TORRO experts spent Sunday analysing the track and damage of the storm, which happened at about 08:00 BST.
'Swirl of water'
Havant Council said Blackthorn Road and Ilex walk were worst hit but there were no reported injuries.
A council spokeswoman said any beach huts dislodged by the wind would be moved back into position.
Roofer Paul Croft spent the day fixing damage to homes. He said: "Today I've had five [homes to repair], yesterday I had six.
"With most of them, it's tiles that have blown off and hit cars or next door's windows. It's caused quite a bit of damage."
On Sunday, eyewitness Marcus Hunt described watching a "swirl of sea water and rain come across the sea" before hitting the land in front of his house.
He said: "It must have been 30ft to 40ft across. We saw it pick lots of spray and shingle off the beach."
A Met Office spokesman said: "Although the data we hold for the weather in Hayling Island on Sunday morning does strongly suggest that the conditions could have produced a weak tornado, we cannot definitively confirm that this was the case."
TORRO records tornadoes on a scale of T0, the weakest, to T11, the most powerful. They are violently rotating columns of air, in contact with the ground or water.
Sunday's tornado is estimated to have been either a T2 or T3.
According to the organisation's records, on 12 September 1810, a T8 tornado travelled from Old Portsmouth to Southsea Common. An eyewitness spoke of the lead roof of a bank being "rolled up like a piece of canvas and blown away".
TORRO said there were, on average, 33 tornadoes each year in the UK.