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Extraordinary Whirlwind in Ireland

    Naturevolume 6page541 (1872) | Download Citation



    IN a letter to the Belfast News-Letter, Mr. C. J. Webb describes an extraordinary whirlwind which occurred in the district around Randalstown, about six miles N.W. of Antrim, near the shores of Lough Neagh, on the 25th of August last. The same phenomenon was witnessed about an hour and a half earlier the same evening at Banbridge, about seven miles S.W. of Dromore. It was first seen near Randalstown about 5 P.M., between that place and Toome, moving rapidly up Lough Neagh from the south, and presenting the appearance of a defined column of spray and clouds, whirling round and round, and not many yards in breadth, while at its base the water was lashed into a circle of white foam. It was next heard of in the neighbourhood of Staffordstown, about a mile from the lake, where it partially unroofed two houses, and damaged any trees or crops which happened to be in its course. From this point it travelled in a straight line for Randalstown, about three miles distant. It passed across a field close to Mr. Webb's house, levelling eight haystacks, and carried a considerable part of the hay up into the air out of sight. The breadth of the storm could be accurately ascertained at this point, and must have extended about thirty yards, as stacks remained unruffled at either side, while those between were thrown down and carried away or scattered about. Everything it lapped up was whirled round and round, and carried upwards in the centre, while dense clouds seemed to be sucked down on the outside, and came close to the earth. Both before and after there was lightning and incessant peals of thunder; but there was no rain till some time afterwards. Mr. Webb next observed its track in a hollow, some three hundred yards further on, where it knocked down a haystack, and then plunged into a wood of fine old Irish oaks. Here it tore numerous branches and limbs from the trees, carrying some along with it, and throwing others to the ground. One noble tree in the centre of the wood seems to have been a peculiar mark for its vengeance, although it would have been completely protected from any ordinary storm, owing to its position. It next passed across a corner of Shane's Castle demesne. Some who were at a short distance from this point describe its approach as causing considerable alarm. It was accompanied by a wild rushing noise, and the crashing of the trees and branches could be heard becoming louder and louder as it advanced. It crossed the valley over the railway viaduct, close to Randalstown, fortunately avoiding the village. It here presented the appearance of a vast whirling column of leaves and branches, mingled with clouds which looked like smoke.

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