And the forecast is more to come

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The Independent Online
MORE tornadoes will hit Britain as global warming takes hold, scientists and insurance chiefs believe. And the "twister" that tore apart the seaside town of Selsey, West Sussex, on Wednesday night is likely to make insurance more expensive.

But Britain was not the only country to experience extreme weather last week. In Canada, the country's worst ice storm on record has wreaked havoc across five eastern provinces - shutting down airports and trains and cutting power to 3 million people - 40 per cent of the population - in Quebec.

Hundreds of Montreal residents abandoned their homes to take shelter in community centres and schools with generators. The government deployed more than 4,000 soldiers to help with relief efforts.

At least 10 deaths in Canada were blamed on the storm, and more freezing rain on Friday spread misery from the Canadian capital, Ottawa, in eastern Ontario, across southern Quebec to the Atlantic provinces.

Back in Britain, scientists warned that the tornado that hit Selsey was caused by unusually warm seas in the English channel and an intense thunder storm. Both factors are expected to become more common due to the man-made climatic change that scientists believe is under way.

The official inter-governmental panel on climate change predicts that seas will get warmer and the weather stormier world-wide as the world heats up.

Dr Terence Meaden, founder of the Tornado and Storm Research Organisation, said winter tornadoes tended to start over the sea, which is warmer than land, and that Britain, as an island, was particularly vulnerable.

Insurers are also waking up to the possibility of increased tornado- related pay-outs. Andrew Dlugolcki of General Accident said last week's tornado would be likely to affectpremiums even though the amount of damage - pounds 10m - was tiny by the standards of natural disasters.

Residents in Selsey have been warned about cowboy builders.Several incidents where people have handed over large sums of money for relatively small repairs are being investigated by police.

But Britain has not finished with weather extremes - this weekend appears to have provided a taste of spring, with warm sunshine under blue skies. Forecasters called it "a rare treat".