RMS: tornadoes are more common in Europe than we usually think

8 July 2021 — Daniela GHETU
Tornadoes are more common in Europe than is perhaps thought, with over 100 occurring on average each year across the continent, Laurent MARESCOT, Senior Director, Market and Product Expert for EMEA and CIS with RMS said in a post on LinkedIn.

Though tornadoes are most common in France, Italy, Germany, Benelux and Poland, in particular over flatter terrain between water bodies and mountains, he explained. Here, warm, moist air coming inland from the sea can undercut cool, dry air flowing towards it at higher altitudes, generating atmospheric instability and wind shear.

The tornado that struck Southern Moravia on 24 June was unusually strong, with an estimated class either EF-3 or EF-4 (max. wind gusts up to an incredible 200mph!), the half a kilometer-wide tornado funnel travelling about 26 kilometers. According to first estimations of the Czech authorities, the total damage to public private and industrial sectors of the South Moravian municipalities in the Breclav and Hodonin vicinities hit by storms and the tornado amounted to CZK 15 billion, but the sum does may increase as it doesn't fully include damages to private properties. The storm and tornado caused damages to 1,200 houses.

Using the Europe Severe Convective Storm model it has released last year, RMS has calculated that on average there are about 4 days a year when a tornado occurs in the Czech Republic. However, the return period of a tornado of EF-3 intensity or stronger is far higher, about 1 in 40 years.

Yet, as devastating as the Southern Moravia tornado was, "it could have been far more deadly and damaging, had it hit any major urban or industrial areas," said Marescot mentioning a noticeable the historical example, of the EF-2 tornado that hit the very center of Paris in 1892, starting in the Jardin du Luxembourg and continuing north-eastwards for six kilometers. Or further back in time, the tornado hitting London in 1091 (estimated EF-4) that destroyed hundreds of houses and even damaged London Bridge. "Imagine the impact these tornadoes would have if they happen again nowadays," Marescot emphasized, reminding that the recent example of the July 8, 2015, EF-4 tornado that hit Mira and Dolo in Italy, very close to Venice, shows the possibility of string tornadoes occurring in Europe is very real.

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