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Halloween Tornado Leaves a Trail of Destruction Through Our Woodland

More than 100 trees have been snapped in two after a tornado ripped through Burleigh Wood in Bladon on Halloween.

The tornado, which has been categorised as Severe on the International Tornado Intensity Scale, destroyed dozens of Norway spruce and young oak trees as well as taking the tops off several mature oaks and chestnut trees.

A ‘Severe’, or T4, tornado is one that reaches speeds of up to 136mph, has the power to lift cars, destroy mobile homes and carry debris for up to two kilometres.

Sarah Horton, from The Tornado and Storm Research Organisation (TORRO), said: ““We have categorised it as a T4 - Severe Tornado.

“The UK averages around 36 tornadoes a year - though this can vary widely from year to year. Between 1981-2010 TORRO classified 6.6% of UK tornadoes as being T4 or above.

“From the trail of damage, this one appeared to have a track that started in Church Hanborough, where it caused minor damage. It caught the corner of Pinsley Wood before crossing farmland and entering Burleigh Wood,” she added.

As well as the forestry damage, the tornado also temporarily blocked a road into Cassington, which had to be cleared by our Rural Team.

“I have worked at Blenheim for 35 years and haven't experienced anything like this before,” said Nick Baimbridge, our Rural Manager.

“We have had large areas devastated by high winds back in 1987 and 1989, but on both those occasions trees were blown over, not snapped off in an isolated corridor.

“I am now in the process of getting the roadside trees surveyed to make sure they are safe and a number of the trees in the woodland will have to be clear felled before the whole area is replanted,” he added.

It appears the tornado was one of three to hit the area at the same time, although it was by far the most damaging. It came just days after we issued our ‘Green’ manifesto, which identifies climate change as the threat to our Estate’s long-term survival.

“Clearly you cannot assign individual incidents like this to be the direct result of climate change,” said our Head of Estates, Rachel Furness-Smith.

“However it is certain that extreme weather events like this will become much more common as the effects of global warming become apparent,” she added.