Surrey tornado was like ‘jet engine’ says horse rider – Extreme weather to become UK norm

Surrey tornado throws debris across M25 motorway

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Judith King, 62, was teaching a horse riding lesson in the quiet village of Ottershaw, Surrey, when a horrifying tornado ripped through the trees, leaving 11 kilometres of wreckage in its path. Ms King says it “sounded like a jet engine”, threw the riders off their horses and left her with £10,000 worth of damage.

She told SurreyLive: “It just tore through, ripping up the fence lines like they were matchsticks and uprooting trees. The noise was incredible, we have some big heavy chairs and they were being thrown around.”

Luckily, no human or horse was seriously injured in the freak tornado on December 21, 2019. But, almost two years on, Ms King is still dealing with the aftermath.

She said after the incident: “There has been tens of thousands of pounds of damage. There are all the damaged fences, the trees have fallen, and we have large mirrors that were lifted and slammed back down. 

“Just the cost of clearing all the trees would be enormous but then with the damage as well. We are a small family run business not a big equestrian enterprise. I do not know how we are going to pay for it all.”

According to the Met Office, the UK has around 30 tornadoes a year, and although they are smaller than those reported elsewhere in the world, they can still cause serious damage. 

As the climate crisis rages on, scientists warn that cases of extreme weather will become the norm and the UK needs to get prepared.

William Collins, professor of meteorology at the University of Reading, told The Guardian: “The UK’s weather is likely to become even more extreme as global temperatures rise.

“Governments have pledged to pursue efforts to limit temperature increases to 1.5C. Failure to do so will cause worldwide climate impacts, and we will not be immune in the UK.”

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World governments will meet this November for the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow. Leaders will try to agree a way of preventing the world from heating up past 1.5C.

UN Secretary General António Guterres said following the landmark IPCC report: “If we combine forces now, we can avert climate catastrophe.

“But, as today’s report makes clear, there is no time for delay and no room for excuses. I count on government leaders and all stakeholders to ensure COP26 is a success.”

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