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Resort in awe at weather wonder

PUBLISHED: 14:03 13 July 2001 | UPDATED: 10:20 03 March 2010

AMAZED Felixstowe residents watched as a spectacular twister whipped up a fountain of seawater into a funnel clearly visible from the shore.

AMAZED Felixstowe residents watched as a spectacular twister whipped up a fountain of seawater into a funnel clearly visible from the shore.

Passers-by stopped their cars to see the twister develop just before 6pm, and it remained visible off parts of the Suffolk coastline for more than 15 minutes.

Some people stopped to take pictures at Old Felixstowe, and a resident of Cliff Road said it caught his eye when he glanced out of his window towards the Deben estuary.

He said: "I saw it immediately and immediately ran upstairs to the balcony with my camera. It was about two to three miles out to sea.

"People have said it was about 500ft tall but I would have thought it was more like 1,500 to 2,000ft. The column of water stretched right up to the clouds, where it got wider.

"It didn't really move its position. It was static, and where it met the sea there was great deal of spray going round. I do a bit of fishing and if anyone in a small vessel had been in the vicinity of it, it would have been highly dangerous.

"People were getting out of their cars and looking, and at one point there were eight cars parked here because nobody had seen anything like it.

"I've lived here 17 years and seen all sorts of things out at sea, but I'd never seen that before."

At its fiercest, the twister spiralled from the sea to up into the clouds, and was around 20 metres wide.

Howard Dawson was in Felixstowe where he was watching his daughter Julie and her fiancé Rhys play in the East of England tennis championships

Mr Dawson, 58, an IT consultant of Horsham, West Sussex, and his wife Marion were visiting the Suffolk coastal resort for the first time.

He said: "It was quite a spectacular first time to visit Felixstowe. The twister stretched right up to cloud level and must have been a minimum of 500ft tall, probably more.

Coastguards said such whirlwinds were very rare in the seas of Britain and can be damaging to small ships but normally peter out before they can warn any sailors.

Evening Star weatherman Ken Blowers explained that the atmosphere has to be very specific for this type of weather system to occur.

He said: "These things only occur under cumulo-nimbus clouds and we had these moving from the South West to the South East."

"They are really just tornadoes that move on to the sea and they occur in thundery weather. They are very rare and you will be lucky of you see one of the coast of Suffolk once every five years."

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