THE roof of a mosque was ripped off and a shopping centre was closed for public safety as tens of thousands of people in Leeds battled to cope with powerful winds of up to 80mph.
Bramley Shopping Centre, which was evacuated after a wall supporting the roof of the site’s Tesco supermarket collapsed, was one of many buildings in the city damaged by severe weather.
Bramley resident Stephen McBarron said: “It is quite frightening when the police come and say we may be evacuated because the roof could collapse.”
Elsewhere, Leeds Grand Mosque in Hyde Park had the upper part of its roof pulled off by the winds early in the morning and a road next to the Trinity Leeds shopping centre was closed after cladding was blown loose from the side of the building.
West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue service received 80 calls about dangerous structures including damaged roofs, trees falling on to buildings and unsafe scaffolding throughout the county between 7.30pm and 3pm.
Leeds Council closed the German Market in Millennium Square and the bird garden at Lotherton Hall. It also closed the junction near the Bridgewater Place tower to traffic for safety reasons, a day after the inquest into the death of a man killed when a lorry was blown on top of him near the site in 2011.
Many pedestrians walking past Yorkshire’s tallest building struggled to avoid being blown into the road due to the ‘wind tunnel’ effect created by the tower since it was built in 2007.
One resident, who witnessed the winds on her way to work, wrote on Twitter: “People barely able to stay upright, being flung into the road, mum battling as pushchair is almost blown over. V scary.”
The closure of the junction, one of the major roads into Leeds city centre from the M1 and M621, caused lengthy delays for motorists.