Date: 05-08-1999
Time: Cell 1: 14:08 BST; Cell 2: 16:30 BST
Macclesfield, Cheshire UK
Type: Cell 1: Multicell; Cell 2: Small Supercell
Documented by: Mark Seltzer
Equipment: Samsung VP-H65 Video Camera
Footage Quality:

Storm Statistics: T0027.doc
Event Timeline: T0027events.xls

An active occluded front powered northwards across the country from the south overnight. It was supposed to give thundery rain, however it fizzled out as it reached the North Midlands. However a small trough formed behind it as the occluded front stalled over Northern England. A very thin line of thundery cells swept up from the SW across Macclesfield and the surrounding region.

They were steadily active and the cell that passed over Macclesfield giving some low-amp C-C overhead and high-amp C-G over the Pennines in the distance to the east, but it was what was to follow a couple of hours later that caught my attention.

Dundee Satellite VIS image 1444Z

I decided to tie this next event in with the T0027 cell cluster, even though it occurred a few hours later in a separate cell, because I didn't observe any lightning activity. What I did observe was a dark mass of fast moving low cloud was developing at an alarming rate to the NW of Macclesfield at 16:30, and the clouds around it were moving in all directions. It became obvious that a classic supercell-like mesocyclone was in progress which is shown clearly when watching time-lapsed footage of the twisted motion of the cloud. The whole area was swiftly developing so I trained my camera on it. No thunder or lightning was observed from the cell at this time.

Low cloud close to Macclesfield was moving in a southerly direction while the mesocyclone drifted NE. Bizarre swirls of low cloud began forming in the local skies. As I watched the mesocyclone twist, with my camera trained on it, the leading updraft seem to go completely vertical and I saw condensing cloud masses start to form under it. It appeared like a tornadic funnel coming together. It was in a similar position as the tornado spawned from T0014 the previous year 1998.

The funnel kept dissipating and reforming itself, until a second swirl of condensation started to form to the right of the primary, this time starting from the ground up and appeared to be a bit closer than the first. I zoomed the camera into the touchdown area and could see pronounced multiple-vortex features as it wriggled about along the surface; also a distinct funnel was just about visible leading into the parent mesocyclone. The primary funnel at this time was still just about visible.

Double-click to run this video of the tornado sequence x5 time-lapse (embedded from
(Macromedia Flash Player is required to view this video)

About 6 minutes after the second touchdown both funnels ascended into the cloud. By this time the storm was moving behind trees and further NE away from Macclesfield, and new storm cells developed a bit closer and passed within 10 miles away. No thunder was heard during this whole event from this storm cell, but heavy rain curtains and huge arcus clouds were observed soon afterwards as the cell continued its progress in the northern horizon.

Tornadoes or Funnels Argument
Like T0014, I have had these videos shown on the internet for public witness. There has been much criticism about whether they are “tornadoes” or “funnels”, mostly from the US stating a funnel becomes a tornado when you see it lifting debris, which is not necessarily true. A funnel cloud doesn’t have to appear to be lifting huge amounts of debris from the ground, so as long as it is actually influencing winds on the ground into a strong vortex. I think in the case of the T0027 funnels, viewing sufficient debris lifted from unpopulated pasteurised land at a few miles distance would be challenging! The footage clearly shows the primary and secondary condensation funnels connecting all the way to the surface. If you were to stand directly underneath them there is a high chance you would have felt the vortex, therefore these are tornadoes.

So in summary a beast of a rare event for the UK had just been documented. Two tornadoes, in the UK, without having to even chase them, one being a multi-vortex…. what are the odds?! Has a multi-vortex ever been documented in the UK? Am I the first? I would like to hear from anyone who has previously documented UK tornadoes for discussion.

Dundee Satellite VIS image 1604Z

VISIBLE 05.08.1999 09:09

INFRARED 05.08.1999 09:09
COLOUR 05.08.1999 09:09

VISIBLE 05.08.1999 14:44
INFRARED 05.08.1999 14:44
COLOUR 05.08.1999 14:44

VISIBLE 05.08.1999 16:04
INFRARED 05.08.1999 16:04
COLOUR 05.08.1999 16:04