Every so often a weather event occurs that is so extreme and so sudden, that it can’t possibly be forecast or expected to happen in any particular location. The 28th of June 2012 was such an occasion when Hinckley, Burbage and the surrounding villages were hit by a severe and unexpected Supercell. These storms are far bigger and contain more energy than your average thunderstorm. Leicestershire bore the brunt from what was to be an exceptional day of weather extremes across the UK.
Severe thunderstorms had been forecast on that day throughout The Midlands with heavy rain, hail and strong winds expected to accompany these. As we now know, this happened on a spectacular scale across wide parts of Leicestershire.
In order for Supercells to develop you require some key ingredients, all of which came together on that day. Very warm unstable air on a southerly wind was moving up from Spain over the UK, known as a ‘Spanish Plume’. This met much cooler air that was moving in off the Atlantic from the west and the result was that the warm air was forced rapidly upwards where the two airmasses met. The final ingredient to trigger instability across The Midlands was a cold front moving from west to east.
These ingredients allowed the thunder clouds to develop much higher in to the atmosphere than normal with the energy within them generating huge updrafts that could produce hail to much bigger sizes than normal and hold them aloft long enough to become bigger and bigger.
The cell that was to hit Hinckley later in the day was actually born in the Cardiff area of Wales during the early morning at approx 09.50am along with others and spent the next 3 hours rapidly growing as a line of Thunderstorms moving up through the South West Midlands.
One of these cells grew rapidly moving NE during the morning and brought severe flooding and lightening to the Midlands by 11am. Flash flooding hit the Coalville and Loughborough areas in particular with this event passing very close to the east of Hinckley.
Coalville and Whitwick Weather Station recorded the following amazing rainfall data from this storm:
3.6 mm in 1 minute (peak intensity)
14.8mm in 5 minutes
26.2mm in 10 minutes
32.2mm in 15 minutes
39.6mm in 35 minutes (total fall) plus an additional 16mm from the 1pm storm (56mm in total)
Other notable totals on the 28th June:
Mountsorrel 30mm from (1pm storm)
Nanpantan 35mm (storm 1) plus 7mm from 1pm storm (42mm in total)
South Loughborough 23.1mm
East Leake 35.6mm
Leicester city up to 30mm in 20 mins (storm 2)
These storms were the worst recorded across Leicestershire since 4th June 1982.
Around the same time as the rainstorm, a moderate T2 tornado formed on the eastern edge of Newbold Verdon (approx 8 miles NNE of Hinckley) around 11.15am. This tracked in an initial NNE direction towards Newtown Linford via Merrylees and Thornton reservoir before dissipating near Cropston Reservoir.
The village of Newbold Verdon suffered damage to properties, outbuildings, garden fencing and trees, this being localised to certain streets whilst others remained untouched.
As the tornado moved NE it passed through a small Industrial Estate ripping off a roof and many trees were either snapped, uprooted or damaged near Newtown Linford & Bradgate Park from this tornado.
Watch the tornado pass through Merrylees caught on CCTV from the industrial estate.
Wind speeds are estimated to have reached 120 mph from the damage caused and the tornado was on the ground for around 6 miles along a mostly narrow path 100m wide.
There were also 2 other possible tornados associated with this storm but are as yet unconfirmed. (Yellow pins below Nailstone / Thurlaston). A separate T2 tornado hit the Sleaford area in Lincolnshire at 14.45pm.
Tornado (red pins) formed in the East of Newbold Verdon and then travelled NNE / NE towards Merrylees / South of Thornton Reservoir / North of Cropston Reservoir / crossed the M1 to the South of Markfield / crossed the A50 / North of Newtown Linford / North of Cropston Reservoir / dissipated East of Swithland Wood.
Yellow pins from Nailstone towards Bardon. This could be a separate Tornado path.
Yellow pins north of the M69 at Thurlaston (8 miles NE of Hinckley) are most probably due to a microburst or rear flank downdraft (RFD).
Watch the Thurlaston wind event.
Sleaford tornado (red pins) and unconfirmed tornado reports (purple).
The maps above and site investigations to produce it is the work of Sam Jowett, Stuart Robinson and Tim Prosser.
Find out more from the site: http://www.ukweatherworld.co.uk/
See the damage pics on the interactive map produced by the ukweatherworld guys.
Hinckley & Burbage Hailstorm
As midday approached it was apparent that Hinckley would be hit by a large area of storms that had formed in a line from South Wales during the morning. By 12.45 a storm was brewing over Hinckley as skies over the area were becoming progressively black and distant sounds of what sounded like thunder.
Detailed chronology of events (approximate times):
Very dark skies and a continuous wall of sound could be heard that was probably hail within the storm combined with thunder and hail already falling on the outskirts of town. Rain begins to fall accompanied by a considerable downdraught.
The first hail starts to fall, larger than a golf ball and spiky in appearance, falling sporadically and smashing on contact with concrete. Many of these are conglomerate stones averaging 40-60mm in width widely and 60- 80mm in South Hinckley and Burbage generally. Several stones fell larger than this with the largest known at 100mm. Due to the shape of these stones, if they were more circular and regular they would probably have measured 30 – 75mm dependant on location. I estimate that the hail would easily be measured at H5 / H6 on the Torro intensity scale.
Very quickly the hail develops in to a heavy and severe fall. Hailstones smash in to smaller ice chunks on contact with hard surfaces. Stones remain whole on contact with grassed / soil areas and make dents in the ground. Severe denting is caused to the bodywork and roofs of motor vehicles and many vehicles receive cracked, or completely smashed windscreens. Such is the intensity that there would have been risk of serious injury to anyone not sheltered.
House roofing tiles are cracked or smashed and conservatory roofs are damaged with plastic roofs completely penetrated in some cases. Plastic guttering is broken or cracked and garden furniture cracked or penetrated. House and car alarms are set off and drains block up with debris from trees stripped of leaf by the hail and by the stones themselves. This causes flooding to commence in parts of the town centre and within the general area. Many shops in the town centre are badly affected by flooding.
Two good examples of the hailstorm as caught in Burbage.
The hail starts to ease but heavy squally rain is still falling with many roads and streets running rivers as the drains back up due to being blocked. Thunder and lightening is almost constant and overhead. Some trees in the area are struck and no doubt some properties too.
Very suddenly the large hail falls a second time and as big as before and lasting probably around 90 seconds. As this ends the rain quickly abates and the skies became brighter.
The storm has ended in most of Hinckley. The skies begin to brighten with sunny periods developing soon after. People begin to emerge from their homes and places of work completely shell shocked by what has just happened and what they have witnessed. The next hour is spent surveying damage, taking pictures of stones lying, making calls to relatives and friends to assess damage to their homes etc. Car parks across the area resemble a scene from a disaster movie!
This remarkable storm was over in about 10 minutes.
Vehicles, windows, greenhouses, roofs and conservatories received widespread and severe hail damage with dented bodywork and smashed or cracked windscreens common. Hail repair businesses popped up overnight and captured the local market. Trees were stripped of leaves, branches broken and flood waters entered properties due to storm water and blocked drains from the accumulated ice and debris.
Insurers recently confirmed the storm cost £500,000 in claims for caravans and motor homes alone in Hinckley. With an estimated 5000 damaged cars in the area that figure could easily be as high as £2.5 million just for vehicles alone. Add to this the commercial garages that had their entire stocks of cars written off and it soon becomes a very expensive damage picture.
Large hail also fell in other areas of Leicestershire and in particular Melton Mowbray. Marble sized hail (large hail to fall in any normal circumstance) fell quite widely across Leicestershire during this storm. It is also quite likely that other tornados possibly could have been spawned from this storm.
It is estimated that the storms of the 28th caused up to £150 million pounds of damage to cars, properties and businesses within Leicestershire.
Assorted pics from the day and credited where possible
This is in no way the complete story of the day….merely a starting point. The storms of the 28th deserve far more analysis, and further evidence needs to be gathered from across the county.
I hope you have found this article as interesting as it was to compile!
Sam Jowett, Stuart Robinson & Tim Prosser – Tornado maps and data
Phil Morrish @rothleyweather – rainfall & tornado data
Emma Armstrong – pics and general storm info
Linda Kenney – pics and hailstone specimens
I will be happy to credit any uncreditted pics!
There is a vast array of pictures, videos and articles on the internet. What I’ve used just scratches the surface and best represents this exceptional storm!
Links to videos from the day. Warning some of these videos contain swearing due to the event that was happening!!
Videos from around Leicestershire
Radar, satellite & vids