The funnel cloud pictured above south Lincolnshire
© @loki_weather
The funnel cloud pictured above south Lincolnshire
A rare weather phenomenon that looks like a tornado was spotted across the UK as storms battered the country.

The funnel clouds were seen above parts of northern England and the Midlands yesterday.

The Met Office describes them as 'extended, spinning fingers of cloud'.

Also known as 'tuba', they extend from the base of a cloud towards the ground but never reach the surface.

'In the UK they often look like thin dangling bits of rope, hanging from the cloud above,' the Met Office explains. 'But in hotspots such as tornado alley in the USA, funnel clouds can sometimes be thicker and much more intense.'

Matthew Whitelocks, a part-time firefighter for Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue, posted pictures and a video of the cloud on Twitter after seeing it for the first time over his home in Grantham.

'I have seen clouds rotating, as if they are attempting to become funnel clouds, but haven't actually formed into one,' the 46-year-old said.

'It was fascinating to watch the funnel, extend and narrow towards the ground.

'There wasn't any sound and the air was surprisingly still.'

Matthew runs a Twitter page called 'Skys of the UK' with his 11-year-old son Kaelan.

'Kaelan is fascinated with all types of weather and has been waiting and hoping to see a funnel cloud or tornado for as I can remember,' he added.

'I'm guessing I have passed on my enthusiasm for the weather.'

People also reported seeing the clouds above Humberside Airport, Peterborough, Bedfordshire, Deal and Sandwich in Kent, and Basingstoke in Hampshire.

Funnel clouds are usually associated with heavy rain, hail, thunder and lightning, according to the Met Office.

The sightings come after heavy rain led to flash flooding in some areas of the UK on Wednesday, with a major incident declared in Somerset.