A tornado has been reportedly spotted over Darlington in County Durham today, with shocked residents posting photos and videos of the extreme weather event on social media.
Locals said they saw a funnel cloud moving quickly, claiming it looked like a tornado, just after midday today.
Pictures posted on social media show thick clouds covering the sky ahead of heavy showers.
Forecasters working for Northeast England Weather tweeted a picture, with the caption: “Funnel cloud or possible tornado.”
The Great North Air Ambulance service also tweeted two photos, writing: “Might have to put the helicopter away.
“Our colleague Megan has just spotted this over Darlington.”
A resident said he “jumped” in his car when he spotted the funnel cloud in the sky.
He told the Northern Echo : “This was the first time I have seen something like this. You see this on the news, see on social media, but you never expect to see it yourself.
“I jumped in the car and went after it.”
A funnel cloud is a cone-shaped cloud that extends from the base of a cloud towards the ground without touching the ground, the Met Office explains.
Usually, they are accompanied by heavy rain, hail, thunder and lightning.
The Met Office adds: “If a funnel cloud does make contact with the ground and produce a tornado, very strong winds can be expected in the immediate vicinity of the vortex potentially causing severe damage.”
It comes as thunderstorms are set to batter the UK this weekend before the weather turns warmer at the end of next week.
Only two weeks ago, a tornado hit parts of East London, with high winds in Barking.
Residents said they were terrified after roof tiles were ripped down, walls crushed by winds and debris destroyed car windscreens.
One man’s entire garden wall was destroyed, while another described how his children were out playing on their trampoline just moments before it was lifted up and flung away by the wind at around 7pm on June 25.
Sandra Shelton, 61, whose garden and roof were severely damaged during the storm, told MyLondon : “It was terrifying. We were absolutely terrified.
“It was about 6.55pm, I was in the conservatory and I noticed the leaves blowing around. Then I saw paper twisting in the wind, and all of a sudden it hit.
“There were tiles everywhere, debris everywhere. It only lasted about five or ten minutes, and we stood in the hallway because we heard that was the best thing to do to stay safe.”