Campbell Docherty witnessed the aftermath of the tornado in the Ladypool Road area of Balsall Heath and Moseley...
The sky went black and, as one, the birds took flight northwards away from the coming storm.
The earthbound residents of Moseley and Balsall Heath, unfortunately, had no such choice.
The tornado, as one eyewitness described it, started life as two smaller twisters which joined together over Kings Heath and then moved off on an eastward path of destruction.
A mile or two on it was ripping down Ladypool Road towards Sparkbrook, churning up trees, cars, even houses in an implacable vortex of devastation.
At about 2.30pm I was driving from Harborne into the centre of Birmingham through the worst downpour of rain I have ever witnessed in the city. The sky was black to the south and visibility, especially in the leafy roads around the University, was extremely poor.
Having made it to the car park and waiting for the rain to ease before I ventured out towards the office, suddenly it brightened up. The air, too, was incredibly warm and humid, markedly different from half an hour previously.
Brolly down, skipping over the Olympic-sized swimming pools created by central Birmingham's feeble storm drains, off I walked to work.
As soon as I arrived, the phones began. A friend and colleague wouldn't be coming in to work, her roof had collapsed. More and more stories of havoc flooded in. At first, we thought the destruction had been wrought on Moseley alone, so that's where I went.
As I drove down Edgbaston Road and Park Road, the only clue to what had happened was the unusually congested Moseley Road.
No damaged houses, no tree branches in the road.
I tried to drive down Brighton Road but a police officer had appeared, directing the by now, badly snarled-up traffic away - to anywhere, anywhere but Brighton Road.
The only way to see what was going on was on foot. I walked further down and crossed into Clifton Road towards Ladypool Road.
More sirens, fire engines and ambulances; more police, many of them in plain clothes having been called in from their days off or well before their shift was due to start.
Then - and this is when the strange, niggling surreal atmosphere became a confirmed major incident - a police helicopter flew overhead asking people to evacuate the area.
"Where the bloody hell too?" chirped a woman behind me. She had made the same walk from the nose-to-tail traffic as I had.
The further I ventured down Clifton Road, the more debris I could see. Broken terracotta tiles lay smashed on the road next to the former primary school, now the Clifton Road Initiative Centre, from where they fell. A few hundred yards up the road - a winding lane that starts in a small industrial estate, goes under a narrow railway bridge, and opens out slightly into detached houses and flats - I could see a concentration of emergency vehicles.
At the junction of Clifton Road and Ladypool Road, the true force of the tornado was apparent. Trees were uprooted, hundreds of pieces of smashed slates lay in the road, police officers held blue and white cordon tape - not an unfamiliar site in Birmingham, Leeds and, of course, London in the past month.
I spoke to Eddie Seals, a pensioner who thought a film was being shot outside the window of his retirement flat when he looked out to see roof tiles and toilet rolls swirling outside. As we stood there chatting, I started to look up at the roofs. Ridge tiles were missing from their summits, the glass in an entire row of skylight windows, about eight in total, was missing.
Then I spoke to a woman whose husband owned three shops on Ladypool Road. She didn't want to be named and would rather her husband spoke to a journalist, but he was elsewhere, presumably trying to salvage his business.
At the moment the tornado hit, her ears momentarily went deaf with pressure and, after the immediate commotion had subsided outside her door, she emerged to find the roofs of all three shops had been ripped off. She also helped an elderly man lying in the road, covered in blood, until the ambulance came.
Then, Parmjit Pandar wandered over. He had been drinking in The Clifton pub when the sky went black and all the birds flew away. Then the rumble and crash.
He dived behind the pool table, his first reaction - not uncommon - was that Birmingham was falling victim to another terrorist attack.
Mark Bassett witnessed the tornado further up Ladypool Road by Balsall Heath Park.
"I have never seen anything like it. It went as dark as night and then the trees in the park starting falling like dominos.
"You only expect to see things like that in a movie, it doesn't happen here in Britain, where you live, does it?"