Thunder, lightning, skies turning black, being bombarded by bricks and feeling like they were in The Wizard of Oz... many people in north-west London were shocked to find themselves in the middle of a tornado on Thursday.
Kensal Rise residents spoke of being plunged into darkness, some saying it was so thick they thought they were trapped in smoke from a fire.
But seconds later the gloom lifted to reveal the damage.
"It literally was The Wizard of Oz," a shopkeeper, identified only as Amanda, said.
"It was just sucking things up into it. There were tiles. There were bits of wood. There were trees."
Actress Maya Sendall said she was "absolutely shrieking with shock" on the telephone as the tornado neared her home.
She said: "It sounded like a train going by and it shook the house. I saw the rubbish bin going by and my hedge flattened by about two or three feet.
"I did not hear too much of the crashing because the sound of the wind was astonishing."
Student Julia Haughton, 22, who heard the tornado, said: "There was a thunder clap and it felt like the house was falling in on us. It was really frightening.
"My boyfriend ran out just as it had gone through our back yard and pulled down our neighbour's tree. When I came out, all the windows were smashed."
Local resident Daniel Bidgood told BBC London 94.9FM: "I was in my living room and I heard a big crack of lightning and thunder, then as I went to the window I heard a sound which was like standing behind a jetliner.
"I could see a huge cloud rolling up the street, making this tremendous sound. I went to try to take a picture of it but a shower of debris smashed all the windows of my house."
Colin Brewer, who lives in nearby Trevelyan Gardens, saw "a swirl starting to form" and then "clumps of all sorts of things flying into the air".
He had seen trees collapse in the road and people being hit on the head by flying objects.
Kevin O'Leary, 56, said: "When the hailstones started coming down I told everyone to get in the lorry and as we were doing that I heard this great roar and almighty bang.
"Then we got bombarded with bricks and God knows what."
Frank Hewetson, a Greenpeace logistics coordinator, was buffeted by the tornado as he cycled near his home in Chevening Road.
He said: "The sky was dark, I heard a noise like a jet engine and then I saw this column of debris.
"There was debris flying around and I was lucky not to be hit.
"I work on climate change at Greenpeace and here was evidence of it on my own doorstep.
"Some people will say it's not climate change, but I don't think we've had too many twisters in Kensal Rise."
Six hurt as tornado hits London
Many people are spending the night in a respite centre after a tornado ripped through several streets in northwest London.
Up to 150 houses and many cars were damaged when the freak weather hit the Kensal Rise area.
One man in his 50s suffered a serious head injury and five were treated for minor injuries and shock.
Fire services have sealed six roads in a zone covering a quarter of a square mile and searched at least 100 homes.
Fire crews were called at about 1100 GMT on Thursday to Chamberlayne Road and surrounding streets, amid reports of collapsed scaffolding and damage to buildings.
Witnesses said there was heavy rain and sleet, then debris flying through the air.
Resident Colin Brewer said: "It was really, really incredible. All of a sudden I saw a swirl starting to form and then, it was amazing, but it then touched land.
"I then saw clumps of all sorts of things flying into air. It went from exciting to terrifying."
Local resident Daniel Bidgood said: "I was in my living room and I heard a big crack of lightning and thunder, then as I went to the window I heard a sound which was like standing behind a jetliner.
"I could see a huge cloud rolling up the street, making this tremendous sound.
"I went to try to take a picture of it but a shower of debris smashed all the windows of my house."
He reported seeing trees ripped up from the roots, front doors missing, windows smashed and people being hit on the head by flying objects.
Dave Bonner, of London Fire Brigade, said one house had its roof completely removed while another had an exterior wall demolished.
Residents returning from work were told to report to the Church of the Transfiguration hall in Chamberlayne Road where they would be met by police and local authority representatives.
Brent Council has set up a respite centre at the nearby Legion Hall on Albert Road for residents who have been made temporarily homeless.
A council spokeswoman said about 70 people are at the hall but they are preparing to help about 150.
The UK experiences an estimated 50 tornadoes on land each year, putting it top of the European league.
The BBC Weather Centre said the tornado lasted less than minute.
"To see a tornado is not that unusual - but the magnitude of the damage due to the one in north-west London is," said BBC meteorologist Susan Powell.
She said the tornado formed due to a lot of energy in the air across the UK, producing widespread heavy thunderstorms with gusty winds.
"However, in the case of the shower in London, the massive up and down draughts came into phase, spiralling and forming a tornado," she said.
The Association of British Insurers said initial estimates suggested damage would be in the millions of pounds rather than tens of millions as seen in Birmingham tornado in 2005.
The last tornado which caused significant damage in London was in December 1954, in west London, in which six people were hurt and the roof of Gunnersbury London Underground station was ripped off.
This is very shocking news. I heard the thunder which lead up to this tis morning at school. My friend has lost here home and now is living in a Bed and Breakfast unitl her house is repaired