A mini tornado struck Port Erin early last Tuesday morning according to resident Dave Ward.
He lives in Ballahane Close with his family and said the noise of the wind woke him up at 5.30am. ‘We had rain and wind and that is quite cosy to listen to, all of a sudden for 15 seconds the house was shaking and there was banging and clattering. I jumped out of bed I thought it was a plane or an earthquake.’
He said the noise woke up his three-year-old son Nathan, who was so alarmed he started crying.
However, it did not stir his month old baby, Imola, who ‘slept for the first time in a month’.
When it became light enough to see, he said his immediate area showed signs of the destruction wrought by the high winds.
‘Roofs have come off, the next door neighbour’s shed is in my garden. Round the back all the bins were all over the place. The back garden walls are blown over. It was like Beirut.’
Backing Mr Ward’s theory this was a small tornado and limited to a small area, Justin Unsworth, who lives at the end of Ballahane Close (in Erin Way) said he heard nothing, but he added: ‘There was a substantial metal garden shed in the middle of the road this morning as I drove to work, it was on its roof.’
A spokesman from the meteorological office at Ronaldsway airport confirmed it had received ‘a couple of calls that the winds became very strong for a time and caused some structural damage’.
Confirming if it was a tornado is impossible because it was night time and dark when it happened. ‘The problem is there was no eye witness, they heard the wind but it’s possible there was some tornadic activity, we had a weather front going through at that time and there was a marked change in wind direction. The wind sensor on Port Erin breakwater did not pick anything up. It could have been a squall or a small scale tornado.
‘In the overall scheme of things it’s not unusual. We tend to see it in some of the water spouts rather than on land, in the UK there are reports of tornadoes. If it happens on the surface of the water, it’s a sea spout. It’s a shame it was not during the day, on the other hand, it was lucky no one was in the shed!’