Footage shared on social media showed garden furniture, sections of fence and brick wall scattered in the road –and roof tiles apparently torn from the tops of houses.
Annie Shuttleworth, a meteorologist at the Met Office, said while the agency could not definitively confirm that it was a tornado that caused the damage, it was “likely” that was the case.
She told The Independent: “It is perfectly plausible from this active convective weather system that it was a tornado, which also produces a number of convective hazards including strong gusts and lightning.”
The tornado was reported to have developed at around midday on Wednesday at a time when a thunderstorm warning was in place for the area.
But Ms Shuttleworth said a lack of imagery meant it was not possible to say that there had been a tornado with 100 per cent certainty.
“We can’t officially confirm it due to lack of imagery but as the area was within a thunderstorm warning throughout the morning we think it likely occurred around midday today,” she said.
“It is perfectly likely that it could have been a tornado, but we can’t confirm the actual event specifically because we don’t have imagery that fully supports it.”
Video shared on Twitter showed the damage caused. One user wrote: “Anyone else near to #Sunnybank in #Widnes just see or experience a #tornado??? No I’m not messing!”
Another said: “Just drove through the aftermath! Incredible!!! Crazy!!” A third tweeted: “I’m in Warrington and my roof is damaged!”
Marco Petagna, who describes himself as a senior operational meteorologist with the UK Met Office, tweeted: “Signs a mini #tornado may have hit #Widnes in Cheshire today..yesterday evening @TorroUK issued a risk of these forming.”
Paul Knightley, whose Twitter bio says he is a “professional meteorologist”, wrote: “Possible #tornado in #Widnes this lunchtime - this radar grab at 1215BST shows the cell responsible - this continued along the purple line to Holmfirth - it has now become somewhat weaker.”
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