CARS and houses have been left damaged after gales of more than 50mph blasted parts of St Helens on Tuesday afternoon.

Villagers in Rainford reported a "tremendous crashing" as the sudden high winds took hold in the village shortly before 5pm.

Ridge tiles were ripped from houses and cars and sheds were damaged during the brief storm.

The strength and suddenness of the winds led one resident to speculate that a mini-tornado could have struck.

He said: "The winds had subsided but then all of a sudden there was this tremendous crashing noise – it came and went within seconds but caused some damage. There are tiles that have blow from houses sticking out of my lawn.

"One neighbour said a shed had blown away – but that has not been confirmed. Could it have been a mini-tornado?"

Star readers online reported similar storms battering streets in Haresfinch and Windlehurst.

A spokesman for the Met Office, which issued a warning about high winds in Merseyside, said: "We did see [on the radar] a line of very heavy rain and strong winds move across the whole Merseyside area between 4pm and 5pm. The gusts would have really picked up quickly and then died off again.

"To someone out in it may well have felt like they were experiencing a mini-tornado but that can't be said for sure.

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"We would have seen gusts reaching above 50mph to 60mph with very heavy rain. It is what we call a squall.

"We can see the same line now moving across the country towards Yorkshire."

Meanwhile, St Helens Council reported damage to street lights on Carr Mill Road, Billinge.

Large branches have also come down on Scafell Road, Moss Bank and barriers in place on Crank Road for roadworks have blown into the road.

Fallen trees have blocked Laffak Road, Laffak and Folds Lane and Washway Lane, Haresfinch.

Council teams have been sent to clear up the damage.

Storm damage

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