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'Mini Tornado' Sweeps Through Parts Of Britain

A "mini tornado" has swept through parts of the Midlands and southern Britain, bringing down trees, knocking out power causing damage to outbuildings.

The funnel-shaped formation was spotted above several towns in Surrey including Chobham, Epsom and Knaphill, as well as in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, and in Harlow, Essex.

Ferocious thunderstorms accompanied by heavy rain and hail were reported in Birmingham, Nottingham and Milton Keynes, as well as parts of Kent and Essex.

Twitter and Facebook were flooded by messages and pictures from people caught up in the severe weather.

Our picture was provided by Twitter user Grant Kavanagh who captured the tornado over houses in Knaphill, Surrey.

Pam Steadman said parts of an equestrian centre next to her house in Epsom were lifted over trees at the bottom of her garden.

Heather Riley reported "lots of damage to houses and cars" in Nuneaton, Warwickshire.

Darran Jaques, who described the weather as "wild", said scaffolding had been ripped down and shop fronts damaged in northeast Surrey, while Jean Ramgoolam tweeted: "Looks like a mini tornado just went past!"

It is thought the intense weather may have been caused by a squall line - a band of thunderstorms that precedes a cold front.

Satellite pictures showed a clear line of heavy storms moving slowly across the country from the North West to the South East.

As well as damage to property, the severe weather caused widespread power cuts across the country.

UK Power Networks, which maintains electricity cables and lines across London, the South East and the East, said it received a "high number of calls" from customers as the storm swept through.

In the area around Tonbridge, Kent, more than 8,000 people were left without power, although supplies have since been restored for most.

The storms come as communities in the South and South West prepare for possible flooding, with further heavy rain forecast to fall on already saturated ground.

Sedgemoor District Council has declared a "major incident" on the Somerset Levels, where pumps are being used to keep floodwater away from homes.

Other parts of the country, including the Northern Pennines and parts of western Scotland, saw a sprinkling of snow.

:: Watch Sky News live on television, on Sky channel 501, Virgin Media channel 602, Freeview channel 82 and Freesat channel 202.

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