Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Central-European severe weather outbreak August 15th

Many countries were affected in a belt extending from northern Italy to the Baltic Countries. Sadly enough, 8 people lost their lives due to the severe weather, most of them due to falling objects in strong wind gusts, 3 in Poland, 2 in Slovakia, 2 in Italy and 1 victim in Austria. ESTOFEX noticed the seriousness of situation a few days beforehand and an extended forecast was issued on August 13th. The next day it became obvious that the highest threat level, 3, would be necessary for some regions and a convective forecast was posted.

The first storms started quite early, before noon, and in very strong wind fields. They quickly organised into supercells. One of the supercells hit the city of Katowice, accompanied by damaging hailstorm. A video of the falling hail can be found here. But Poland was not the only region, where explosive thunderstorm formation occurred. Northern Italy and Slovenia followed very soon. In very a unstable environment, the storms produced swaths of large hail, some of the hailstones had a diameter of more than 5 cm. Later in the day, the situation became even more serious as a line of supercells developed over southern Poland and moved to the NE. A forecast update was issued approximately soon afterwards. These storms produced at least 8 tornadoes. Here are a few photo's:

Source: AP

Source: Agencja Gazeta

One of them has been rated F3, i.e. a strong tornado, and caused considerable damage to houses and vegetation. Tornadoes were extensively documented by local storm chasers and some videos can be found here. A very dramatic video comes from the inside of a bus, that was overturned by severe tornadic winds. Meanwhile, a line of HP supercells organized into a powerful bow echo over Slovenia and headed to the north. Extensive wind and hail damage occurred with this system across Slovenia, W. Hungary, E.Austria and SW. Slovakia. In Austria and Slovakia, hailstones of 5 cm diameter were found after the storm and roofs of some houses were completely destroyed. What is more, mountainous regions of Middle Europe experienced flash flooding as storms repeatedly moved over the same places.


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