A funnel cloud snapped over a house in Darlington
© Mark Emmerson /via REUTERS
A funnel cloud snapped over a house in Darlington on Friday afternoon
Residents in County Durham were left "amazed" after a rare 'tornado' cloud appeared in the sky.

The funnel cloud emerged just after midday on Friday and people rushed to take photos and video to share on social media.

More were spotted across the region as BBC Look North's Jen Bartram tweeted: "What I would say is that there are a LOT of funnel clouds around - and the thunderstorms likely to get going a bit more across the North East this afternoon."

Speaking to the Northern Echo, one local said: "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!"

The Great Northern Air Ambulance, the local air ambulance service charity covering Cumbria, the North East & North Yorkshire, tweeted two pictures of the tornado and wrote: "Might have to put the helicopter away."

Funnel clouds were also seen in Suffolk and Kent a few hours later.

And on Thursday afternoon, residents in Somerset, Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire and Essex also reported seeing funnel clouds.

Explaining the difference between a funnel cloud and a tornado, the Met Office said a funnel cloud does not reach the earth's surface, while it only becomes a tornado if it reaches land.

A spokesperson said: "A funnel cloud is a cone-shaped cloud which extends from the base of a cloud towards the ground without actually reaching the surface.

"In the UK they often look like thin dangling bits of rope, hanging from the cloud above.

"But in hotspots such as tornado alley in the USA, funnel clouds can sometimes be thicker and much more intense."

"Crucially, a funnel cloud does not reach the earth's surface, at the point it reaches land it becomes a tornado, or if it reaches a body of water it becomes a waterspout.

"In a typical year, the UK sees around 30-35 tornadoes each year, though it is very rare that are they strong enough to cause any significant damage."