Storm Jocelyn battered Manchester with winds of over 40 miles per hour last night, but it was not just the storm that was keeping residents awake.
In high winds Beetham Tower, one of the tallest buildings in Manchester, emits a loud whistling noise caused by an effect like the sound made when you blow across the top of a glass bottle. Some residents have compared the sound to a UFO landing. Last night’s strong wind meant it was exceptionally noisy, with some social media users reporting it prevented them from sleeping.
Michael Crofton Sheridan could hear the noise from his home on Canal Street more than 900 meters from the Deansgate tower.
He said: “It’s very unusual to hear the tower from where I live. It was that loud we could hear it with the windows and curtains closed.”
Leah Whitehorse, a writer and astrologist from Hulme, regularly hears the strange sound alongside the loud wind noise from her home.
She said: “Although I hate the noise, oddly I quite like the hum because it sounds a little space age. Maybe it’s just because I like sci-fi and it reminds me of Close Encounters.”
Leah has noticed that the building of new towers in the area has created a “wind tunnel effect” which amplifies any gusts. Last night ranks alongside Storm Franklin as the loudest she has heard the hum from Beetham Tower. In contrast, the tower was silent during the recent Storm Isha winds, possibly because the wind was blowing in a different direction.
Ian Simpson, the architect who designed the tower, has previously explained that the sound is caused by the blade on top of the building. The blade is not a critical part of the structure of the building and is mostly for aesthetic purposes.
It has been an ongoing issue for the tower with work done several times to try and reduce the noise. Weather events such as Storm Jocelyn seem to be particularly problematic. The noise from the tower has previously been recorded as high as 78 decibels from 100 meters away, around the volume of a washing machine.
The sound has become so notorious it has been sampled by American band Paramore for their song “Idle Worship”.
The Financial Times hailed Beetham tower “the UK’s first proper skyscraper outside London” but, years on from the building’s opening, the architects are still looking for a fix to the sound problem after several attempts to eradicate the noise. In the meantime, residents have become accustomed to hearing the unusual background noise on exceptionally windy days.