Salisbury Saintes Twinning Association
Saintes Salisbury Twinning

Tornado hits near Saintes

Saintes has a near miss. 

In Hartford, Hereford and Hampshire, hurricanes hardly happen.  You would hope that the same thing applied to the Charente Maritime with regard to tornadoes.  However, there were in the middle of this month (September 2015) and it would seem that they are quite common in this part of France.  Two years ago we had some limited damage to our house when a small tornado ripped through our garden.  Later it was easy to see the damage to trees over about a kilometre and in a dead straight line.

However, the tornado on the 16th September that travelled from near Saintes for over 30 kilometres to peter out near Beauvais-sur-Matha was on a totally different scale.  It arrived courtesy of Tropical Storm Henri in the middle of the day. The first report of a sighting was from just north of Chaniers, about 5 kilometres east of Saintes.  However, the most damage was suffered in Le Liboreau, a small hamlet about 5 kilometres south east of Matha.  Where we live we had a black cloud, strong winds and a short sharp shower but were unaware of the drama taking place to our east. The track of the tornado passed within 8 kilometres west of us, a negligible distance in meteorological terms, so we considered ourselves very lucky.

As the photos show it caused a lot of damage but thankfully no casualties.  Luckily for Le Liboreau it only clipped the north west corner of the hamlet, limiting the damage.  Had its track been 50 metres further south it would have caused a lot more damage.  Thankfully it crossed mostly over farmland, bad luck if your vines happened to be the ones in the way, but limiting the damage and potential for casualties had it struck a major built up area.  Its track was fairly narrow so whilst I was looking at the damage to the vines, other vines about 50 metres were being harvested as if nothing had happened. 

An earlier tornado in the Saintes area occurred a few days earlier but with much less power and damage.  One expects such things in the mid west, not here in the Charente Maritime.

For more dramatic pictures and footage, Google “tornado Charente Maritime” where you will find a webpage from “”.

Mervyn Pannett