A tornado ripped through Boomtown festival sending tents, camping chairs and gazebos 60 feet into the air as the heatwave finally broke and thunderstorms lashed the UK.
Festival-goers described seeing a “scar” of destruction left by the tornado on Sunday and said objects were thrown so high into the air that they flew out of the campsite and got stuck in nearby trees.
The Met Office said it had examined the footage in detail and “given the turbulent nature of the atmosphere on Sunday” it was entirely possible a tornado ripped up the Hampshire festival.
In videos taken by shocked bystanders, the objects caught up in the tornado could be seen swirling around high in the sky and on the ground as the wind moved through the festival.
Samuel James, a 23-year-old student, from Surrey, who witnessed the chaos, said: “It happened on Sunday. It was quite contained but pretty powerful.
“It came through the bottom of the valley, picked up people’s tents and completely threw them out of the site.
“I assume the tents didn’t have stuff in them, but it was pretty powerful and you could see afterwards that there was a scar left across the campsite where a path had been cut through.
“Gazebos and tents flew into the air as well. It lasted for about 30 seconds to a minute.
“Luckily we weren’t in the path of it. You could see it twisting dust up about 60 feet into the air and it looked like a twister. None of the organisers said anything after it happened and I'm not sure if the organisers were even aware of it.”
A spokesman for the Met Office said the tornado was “indirectly linked to the heat” as it could not have occurred without the widespread development of thunderstorms that followed the end of the soaring temperatures.
They added: “Without knowing the exact time that footage was taken, it’s hard to confirm what the specific weather set-up was.
“There were showers in that region around 5pm on Sunday, and the environment of that would have supported some short-lived tornado activity.
“If it wasn’t around then, there’s a chance it could be a ‘dust devil’ – which is effectively some swirling air that can occur when the ground is dry and high temperatures produce strong updrafts.”
Tornadoes are vertical funnels of rapidly spinning air with wind speeds that can top 250 miles an hour. They form when warm, humid air collides with cold, dry air.
The denser cold air is pushed over the warm air, usually producing thunderstorms.
The warm air rises through the colder air, causing an updraft. The updraft will then begin to rotate if winds vary sharply in speed or direction. The UK typically experiences around 30 thunderstorms a year.
Boomtown is held annually on the Matterley Estate in South Downs National Park, near Winchester, Hampshire.
A spokesman for the festival said they were aware of the incident and no injuries had been reported.