FREAK weather ripped tiles from houses, damaged trees and fences, and set off the alarms at a cinema yesterday.

During the freak storm at about 4pm yesterday, films at Witney’s Cineworld cinema were interrupted and audiences were told to leave.

Reports of ‘tornado-like weather and sheet rain were received around the north and west of the county, including Witney, Eynsham, Bicester and Kidlington.

Photographer Ric Mellis, from Witney, was at Cineworld with his 11-year-old son.

He said: “When we went out towards the exit, hailstones as big as frozen peas were falling.

“The supervisor said the storm had triggered all the alarms, therefore the evaucation procedure kicked in.

“We all got absolutely drenched.”

Jim Baxendale, from Kidlington, said the weather had torn slates from up to 12 houses in Cherwell Avenue.

He said: “It’s ripped fences up and ripped slates off the roofs.

“The lady next door said it was like a tornado.”

Police were called as two trees were felled by the winds along the Oxford Road, at Hampton Poyle.

Beryl Ross, said her house in Witney was hit by lightning which knocked tiles from the roof, one of which narrowly missed her son.