RESIDENTS said it was lucky nobody was killed when a 50ft high “tornado” tore through a village, ripping up trees and roofs.

Witnesses said an eerie calm settled over Huby before chaos suddenly erupted. The storm narrowly missed the main village, but carved a trail of destruction for a quarter of a mile through the outskirts around the Easingwold Road area.

Residents watched in horror or ran for cover as the whirlwind swept across the fields towards their homes.

Two minutes of mayhem followed and the air was filled with shrapnel and debris as winds gusting at between 90-100mph tore outbuildings apart on local small-holdings on Friday tea-time – causing tens of thousands of pounds damage..

Dozens of trees, including centuries-old oaks and 100ft tall pines- snapped like twigs or were torn up by the roots. Large branches smashed into houses as the trunks toppled to block roads. One fell on to a moving car, but no one was injured.

Phone lines came down, sides of corrugated iron were torn off barns, slates flew off roofs, brick walls crumbled, satellite dishes were bent, cutting off TV reception, central heating pipes ruptured, barns and sheds were flattened.

At the local saw mill, a large shed was torn apart and three 20ft long wooden beams, each weighing a quarter of a ton, were sent spinning through the air towards adjoining bungalows occupied by Oak Tree saw mill owner Vic Howland, 68, and his son Dan.

Mr Howland snr said one of the beams hit his front window “like a bullet” and the air was full of shards of metal as the roofs of sheds were torn off and broke up.

“If anyone had been out in the open they would have been cut in two,” he said. “The place was like a bombsite by the time it was over. It was unbelievable and terrible.”

His son Dan, 40, realised what was going to happen and called his 12-year-old daughter Jessica inside. They shut all the doors and took refuge in the front room seconds before the other two beams struck the bungalow.

One bounced off, but the other tore a gaping hole in the roof and came to rest dangling over the spot in Jessica’s attic bedroom where she usually stands to practise singing.

Wagon driver Dan said: “I heard something funny and looked out the window. There was no doubt it was a tornado. I saw the roof of one of the out-buildings turning round and round and said let’s get inside Jess.

“We got into the centre of the bungalow and shut all the doors. Then we heard a big bang.” The flying beam smashed through the slate and only stopped when it rammed one of the main supporting beams in the attic.

On the other side of the street, Betty Tyson, 76, said: "We heard this crash and thought the conservatory had fallen down."

Wind had torn up the car port leaving the car and freezer behind, flinging the entire corrugated metal roof across the back garden to flatten the hedge.

Further down the field, a 100ft pine was uprooted and an oak snapped in two, demolishing the barn next to it with the tractor inside. The house will need a new roof, and Mrs Tyson and her husband are being kept awake by the howling of the central heating from broken pipes.

Local resident and helicopter pilot Steve Waudby, 53, estimated windspeed at 90-100mph. He watched as they bent a 150-year-old oak behind his house until it broke into two pieces which fell either side of his back hedge.

North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service said it cordoned off Easingwold Road after a tree fell onto a car. All the occupants escaped injury, a spokesman added.

Resident Joanne Lazenby said: “A twister came across some fields taking trees down. It took a roof off a house and one tree fell on to a caravan with people in it. They were holiday-makers.” Her husband Mark said: I have never seen anything like it in our country.”

Villager Jo Roberts said: “The debris were in a funnel shape as if the wind had crossed the road in a zig zag fashion. The leaves on the ground were swirling around in a weird way. The whole atmosphere in the village was oppressive.”

At Period Pine Doors, in Easingwold Road, hundreds of doors piled outside the warehouse were blown everywhere, including into nearby fields. Owner Amanda Moore said: "The wind lifted them as if they were pieces of paper. The roof was lifted off the warehouse but came back down again."

The Met Office said it could not confirm the storm was a tornado, but said atmospheric conditions in the area were consistent with that.