Met Office explains freak Storm Gerrit 'tornado' that severely damaged properties in Stalybridge

Residents were forced to leave their homes after the dramatic incident shortly before midnight.
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A major incident was declared in a part of Greater Manchester after a localised tornado damaged properties during Storm Gerrit. 

Around 100 properties in the villages of Carrbrook and Millbrook near Stalybridge had to be evacuated after the weather event at around 11.45pm on Wednesday night. Greater Manchester Police, North West Ambulance Service and Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service have all responded to the incident and there have been no injuries. Residents have however described the scene on Thursday morning as "like a warzone".

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GMP deemed it a major incident “due to the severity of the damage caused and potential risk to public safety” before removing the alert at around 11am. Tameside Council opened a reception area at Dukinfield Town Hall for anyone needing refuge.  People are being asked to avoid the area where possible due to debris in the road from properties and fallen trees. 

The Met Office radar at the time the freak weather tornado hit Stalybridge. Picture: Met OfficeThe Met Office radar at the time the freak weather tornado hit Stalybridge. Picture: Met Office
The Met Office radar at the time the freak weather tornado hit Stalybridge. Picture: Met Office

Why was there a tornado in Stalybridge last night?

In a post on X, the Met Office said: “Last night a supercell thunderstorm crossed Greater Manchester causing damage. We know from our Dopplar radar that it had a strong rotating updraft. Whilst we don't yet have surface data to confirm, the presence of these features suggests a tornado at the surface was likely.”

What have Greater Manchester Police said?

Chief superintendent Mark Dexter from GMP said: “This incident has undoubtedly affected numerous people in the Stalybridge area with many residents displaced from their properties during the night. Our highest priority is keeping people safe which is why we are advising those who have been displaced not to return or enter their properties which have significant damage until they have been assessed by structural engineers.

“I would also like to urge members of the public to avoid the area where possible and take extra care when travelling in vehicles on the roads in Stalybridge and the surrounding areas, due to debris in the road. This has understandably caused some disruption and, though we are not yet in a position to confirm when the area will return to normal, further updates will be communicated when we have them. I would like to use this opportunity to thank the community for their cooperation and patience.”

What have Tameside Council said?

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In a statement on their Facebook page, Tameside Council said: "We are working with a partners in Greater Manchester Police and Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service to deal with an incident where a “mini tornado” hit areas of Carrbrook and Millbrook in Stalybridge late last night. Approximately 100 properties were evacuated and support is being offered to residents as needed. It is believed everyone affected made arrangements to stay with family and friends overnight. Our officers have been out all night and continue to be out today clearing debris, fallen trees and making roads, footpaths and other areas safe. Anyone who requires support can call our Emergency Contact centre on 0161 342 2222."