Home world ‘Localised tornado’ damages 100 properties as Storm Gerrit sweeps UK

‘Localised tornado’ damages 100 properties as Storm Gerrit sweeps UK

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‘Localised tornado’ damages 100 properties as Storm Gerrit sweeps UK

A “localised tornado” damaged around 100 properties in Greater Manchester as Storm Gerrit swept the UK, with thousands of homes remaining without power and travellers likely to face continued disruption.

The storm brought heavy snow across parts of Scotland which, along with high winds and heavy rain, damaged electricity networks as fallen trees, branches and other debris brought down power lines.

It also wreaked havoc on the travel network with a string of train operators – including ScotRail, LNER and Avanti West Coast – suspending and terminating some services, as well as advising customers not to travel.

A “localised tornado” is believed to have caused “significant damage” to homes in Stalybridge, Tameside.

“Numerous reports” were made to Greater Manchester Police (GMP) at around 11.45pm on Wednesday, and the force declared a major incident due to the “severity” of the damage caused and the potential risk to public safety.

No injuries were reported but many residents were forced to leave their homes.

Tameside Council said approximately 100 properties were evacuated after the “mini tornado” hit areas of Carrbrook and Millbrook.

A spokesperson said: “It is believed everyone affected made arrangements to stay with family and friends overnight.

“Our officers have been out all night and continue to be out today clearing debris, fallen trees and making roads, footpaths and other areas safe.”

Chief Superintendent Mark Dexter from GMP said: “This incident has undoubtedly affected numerous people in the Stalybridge area with many residents displaced from their properties during the night.

“Our highest priority is keeping people safe which is why we are advising those who have been displaced not to return or enter their properties which have significant damage until they have been assessed by structural engineers.

“I would also like to urge members of the public to avoid the area where possible and take extra care when travelling in vehicles on the roads in Stalybridge and the surrounding areas, due to debris in the road.”

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) said workers had been dealing with wind speeds of 80mph in some coastal areas as they worked to reconnect customers.

Power has been restored to more than 31,500 properties while just over 14,000 remain without power as of 7.45am on Thursday, according to SSEN Distribution.

Director of corporate affairs Graeme Keddie told BBC Radio Scotland many of those properties are in north-east Scotland and Shetland.

“One of the main impacts we’ve seen is around access to faults, so blocked roads, flooding in fields, and issues with snow,” he said.

“We’re very hopeful that that will ease today but that has meant our teams on the ground have been saying that (in) the time it would take to fix two or three faults they have only been able to fix one, but we are hopeful of further progress today as weather conditions have eased.”

He added that power may not be restored for some customers until Friday, particularly those who live in heavily affected or rural areas.

Scotland Police confirmed the A9 has fully reopened in both directions and is “passable with care” after snow blocked the road between Drumochter and Dalwhinnie.

Inspector Michelle Burns, from Police Scotland’s Road Policing Unit, said: “Conditions for travel in the affected areas may be hazardous and extra caution should be exercised by all road users.

The A90 northbound has also reopened after earlier closures, but southbound lanes at Lochlands, Forfar, remain off-limits with local diversions in place.

Scotland’s rail network experienced widespread cancellations and delays with a train driver’s cabin hit by a falling tree.

Aslef Scotland confirmed the driver was uninjured and Labour MSP Paul Sweeney said passengers were also unharmed.

ScotRail suspended multiple train services until further notice, while other lines saw their timetables shelved until “a full inspection can be carried out” on the railway network.

Train operator LNER, which runs services between London and Scotland on the East Coast Main Line, also advised customers not to travel because of the weather.

Customers stranded by the disruption were told to book hotels for which they can claim back.

Avanti West Coast, which operates services on the West Coast Main Line, said its route to Scotland is impassable with all services to and from London terminating at Preston.

Those with tickets for travel between Preston and either Edinburgh or Glasgow can board trains on Thursday or Friday, the operator said.

The operator said on Thursday morning that a tree falling on overhead wires between Rugby and Lichfield Trent Valley means some lines are blocked, extending journey times for services from London Euston towards the North West, as trains are diverted through the Midlands.

Authorities in Greater Manchester were also called on Wednesday to weather incidents amid reports of a possible tornado which damaged properties in Dukinfield and Mossley.

Tameside Council opened a reception area at Dukinfield Town Hall to cater for any displaced residents.

The Tornado and Storm Research Organisation said a detailed site investigation would need to be undertaken before it can confirm the damage was caused by a rare British tornado.

Heathrow Airport cancelled 18 flights on Wednesday because of air traffic control restrictions including routes from Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Jersey and Manchester as well as to Barcelona, Berlin, Madrid and Paris.

Storm Gerrit also brought plenty of rain with the Great Langdale Valley in the Lake District recording 80mm – nearly half the usual 178mm monthly rainfall for December, the Met Office said.

The fastest recorded wind gusts so far are 86mph at Inverbervie on the north-east coast of Scotland, 84mph at Fair Isle and 83mph at Capel Curig, north Wales, the forecaster said.