Is this a twister over Hartlepool? Check out these pictures and video
A natural phenomenon brought people to a standstill after the beginning of a tornado formed over Hartlepool.
The funnel cloud was captured on camera at around noon, with the spectacle lasting around 15 minutes.
Among those to spot it was Charlie Rae, 51, wife Christine, 36, his carer, and her children Bret Brown, 13, a student at High Tunstall School, and Corey Brown, 10, and Ebony Brown 11, who attend Lynnfield School.
Charlie, who is disabled, and his family, who live in Alderson Street, Hartlepool, had been heading back from Seaton Carew when they spotted the cloud over the Elwick Road area.
He said: “We saw it and lots of other people had stopped to watch this cloud forming.
“It was definitely a twister, without a doubt.
“I’ve seen them before over the sea when they become waterspouts.
“It was getting longer and longer and fatter and fatter.
“The kids can’t want to go to school to tell their friends what they saw.
“I just thought it was amazing and it’s not something you see over Hartlepool every day.”
Hartlepool Marina staff also captured a photo and shared it with followers on Facebook adding the comment: “Interesting clouds today.”
It was caught on video by Paul Cowey from Boldon Colliery, who kindly sent his footage to us.
Chris Page, Met Office meteorologist, said the clouds are most commonly formed from a cumulonimbus cloud, also known as thunderstorm clouds.
They happen in localised areas of intensely low pressure.
He said: “Basically, it’s a starting point for a tornado, but it doesn’t become a tornado until it touches the ground.
“The conditions are right for them at the moment.
“It’s difficult to say how often they occur, but what we can say now is that now everyone has a mobile phone on them, they can take photos and video when they couldn’t before and now people can upload them to Twitter or put them online.
“They’re something weather watchers have on their tick list.
“We really like it when people share their photos and video with us, and we encourage them to, because it means we can share them as well or take a closer look so we can understand our weather.”