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Let's twist again

PUBLISHED: 12:51 25 July 2001 | UPDATED: 10:23 03 March 2010

IT was a scene that could have been straight out of a movie. The sky was filled with swirling dust, flying ants and birds, as a tornado stormed into town and ripped off part of an Ipswich factory roof.

IT was a scene that could have been straight out of a movie.

The sky was filled with swirling dust, flying ants and birds, as a tornado stormed into town and ripped off part of an Ipswich factory roof.

When most areas of the town were enjoying sunny, calm weather, strong gusts of wind appeared out of nowhere at Farthing Road Industrial estate at about 4.30pm yesterday .

The tornado came less than two weeks after a twister was photographed off the coast of Felixstowe – which was visible for more than 15 minutes as it whipped up a fountain of seawater on July 12.

Shocked Phil Butler and Chris Budgen were talking inside Huntleigh Akron, in Farthing Road, when the twister hit.

Mr Butler, director of the company which makes medical positioning and rehabilitation equipment, said: "We were just standing having a chat, when we heard what sounded like stones landing on the roof. We looked outside and saw a lot of turbulence. The wind was swirling and picking up dust and bits and pieces were flying about.

"Then there was an almighty crash and it just pulled part of the roof off."

"The wind must have been incredibly strong because the roof's made of fibre glass and that's pretty tough stuff," he added.

Mr Budgen, who works in the company's distribution department, said they did not know what was happening at first.

He said: "The noise was unbelievable. I've never heard anything like it.

"It was like something big had hit the roof and then I thought someone had fallen through."

"We didn't see the roof pulled off," he added, "we were too busy getting out of the way."

The gaping hole left in the factory roof was not the only sign that a tornado had hit, however.

In front of the building's reception a man hole cover had been ripped out of its concrete setting and thrown across the ground, narrowly missing a couple of cars.

Mr Butler said: "It's amazing. The strength of the wind must have unbelievable to have pulled it out of there when it was mortared in like that.

"It just sucked it out and dropped it again."

Evening Star weather expert Ken Blowers said: "Most of yesterday was fair weather cloud, but I noticed a big black cloud over north west Ipswich, which was the only one in the sky."

He was surprised the tornado happened yesterday, but said they are getting more common.

The temperature was 76 degrees Farenheit.

The remnants of a tornado funnel slowly disappeared into a cloud.

Shortly after the tornado struck Huntleigh Akron, the swirling winds could still be seen at the junction of Farthing Road and Sproughton Road as leaves, dirt and rubbish were lifted off the ground in a spiral of wind, while only yards away the air was still.

The sky was filled with flying ants, believed to have been picked up and carried by the twister, while birds flocked above Sproughton, either caught on the wind's current or simply there to feast on the bugs.

Mr Blowers said that twisters do pick up anything in their path and it was not surprising that flying ants were caught up in the draft.

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