Torrential rain and a tornado: it must be Wimbledon

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The Independent Online

Soggy strawberries and play suspended due to rain: another wet Wimbledon opened yesterday, marking a spell of unsettled weather that saw a tornado in Devon and rain lashing the south of England.

The sudden end to the balmy weather was an unwelcome reminder of just how bad English summers can be at the All England Tennis Club, where drizzle left players and fans frustrated as dozens of opening round matches were postponed.

And almost all of southern England got drenched, with parts of south west England having more than 30mm of rain overnight. In Devon, a tornado stunned ramblers as it hovered ominously over Dartmoor National Park. The funnel cloud twisted itself across the moor, but is not believed to have caused any damage.

And those who escaped the rain yesterday should beware; tomorrow will start "dull" with more showers expected.

After heavy overnight rain in Wimbledon, 35 minutes of play was completed, which saw reigning men's champion Roger Federer take the opening set off his opponent Richard Gasquet, before the showers returned. Lee Evans, 45, a business manager from Newmarket, Suffolk, had centre court tickets for one day only and saw Federer, albeit briefly. "It's Wimbledon, isn't it," he said. "You can't control the weather. It's a chance you've got to take." Up to £1 million will be given in refunds.

Across Dartmoor, people were transfixed by the dramatic funnel spiralling across the horizon. Darren Vertessy, 40, filmed the tornado disappear and reappear for 15 minutes on Sunday afternoon. "The sky went really dark and black and it was very hot and humid. I must have been about 10 miles away from it but it still looked huge. It must have been hundreds of feet high, and started out very thick but then went really narrow."

Andrew Sibley, from the Met Office, said the twister was created by winds acting "like water going down a plug hole".

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