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Pieter Groenemeijer and Thilo Kühne

Abstract

A climatology of tornadoes (over land and water) is presented, based on the European Severe Weather Database (ESWD), which contains reports of 9529 tornadoes. With the exception of a few small countries, tornadoes have been reported from all regions of Europe. The highest density of tornado reports is in western and central Europe. ESWD tornado reports increased strongly from 1995 to 2006 as a result of increased data collection efforts, followed by a decrease that likely has a meteorological nature. There is strong underreporting in the Mediterranean region and eastern Europe. The daily cycle of tornadoes over land (sea) peaks between 1500 and 1600 (0900 and 1000) local time. The Mediterranean annual maximum is in autumn and winter, while regions farther north have a maximum in summer. In total, 822 tornado fatalities have been recorded in the ESWD, which include 10 tornadoes with more than 20 fatalities. The average annual number of tornado fatalities in Europe is estimated to be between 10 and 15. The F2 and F3 tornadoes are responsible for the majority of the fatalities.

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Bogdan Antonescu, David M. Schultz, Fiona Lomas, and Thilo Kühne

Abstract

A synthesis of tornado observations across Europe between 1800 and 2014 is used to produce a pan-European climatology. Based on regional tornado-occurrence datasets and articles published in peer-reviewed journals, the evolution and the major contributions to tornado databases for 30 European countries were analyzed. Between 1800 and 2014, 9563 tornadoes were reported in Europe with an increase from 8 tornadoes per year between 1800 and 1850 to 242 tornadoes per year between 2000 and 2014. The majority of the reports came from northern, western, and southern Europe, and to a lesser extent from eastern Europe where tornado databases were developed after the 1990s. Tornadoes occur throughout the year with a maximum in June–August for most of Europe and in August–November for southern Europe. Tornadoes occur more frequently between 1300 and 1500 UTC over most of Europe and between 0900 and 1100 UTC over southern Europe. Where intensity was known, 74.7% of tornadoes were classified as F0 and F1, 24.5% as F2 and F3, and 0.8% as F4 and F5. Comparing this intensity distribution over Europe with the intensity distribution for tornadoes in the United States shows that tornadoes over western and eastern Europe are more likely to be supercellular tornadoes and those over northern and southern Europe are likely to also include nonsupercellular tornadoes.

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Tomáš Púčik, Christopher Castellano, Pieter Groenemeijer, Thilo Kühne, Anja T. Rädler, Bogdan Antonescu, and Eberhard Faust

Abstract

By 31 December 2018, 39 537 quality-controlled reports of large hail had been submitted to the European Severe Weather Database (ESWD) by volunteers and ESSL. This dataset and the NatCatSERVICE Database of Munich RE jointly allowed us to study the hail hazard and its impacts across Europe over a period spanning multiple decades. We present a spatiotemporal climatology of the ESWD reports, diurnal and annual cycles of large hail, and indicate where and how they may be affected by reporting biases across Europe. We also discuss which hailstorms caused the most injuries and present the only case with hail fatalities in recent times. Additionally, we address our findings on the relation between hail size to the type of impacts that were reported. For instance, the probability of reported hail damage to roofs, windows, and vehicles strongly increases as hail size exceeds 5 cm, while damage to crops, trees, and greenhouses is typically reported with hailstone diameters of 2–3 cm. Injuries to humans are usually reported with hail 4 cm in diameter and larger, and number of injuries increases with increasing hail size. Using the NatCatSERVICE data, we studied economic losses associated with hailstorms occurring in central Europe and looked for long-term changes. The trend in hail losses and the annual number of hail loss days since 1990 to 2018 are compared to that of meteorological conditions favorable for large hail as identified by ESSL’s Additive Regression Convective Hazards model. Both hail loss days and favorable environments show an upward trend, in particular since 2000.

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Alexander Chernokulsky, Michael Kurgansky, Igor Mokhov, Andrei Shikhov, Igor Azhigov, Evgeniya Selezneva, Denis Zakharchenko, Bogdan Antonescu, and Thilo Kühne

Abstract

The last comprehensive statistics of tornadoes in northern Eurasia (NE) were published more than 30 years ago. This paper introduces a new database of tornadoes in NE that spans from the tenth century to 2016. The database, compiled using various sources, contains 2879 tornado cases over land and water and includes tornado characteristics. Tornadoes are common for most regions of NE, with a density reaching four cases per 104 km2 in 1900–2016 in some regions. Tornadoes over land have distinct annual and diurnal cycles: they form mostly in May–August, with a maximum in June, and during daytime, with a maximum at 1700–1800 local time. Waterspouts form in all months with a maximum in late summer and mostly at 0900–1300 local time. Most tornadoes are weak and short lived. The Fujita-scale intensity is ≤F1 for 80% and ≥F3 for 3% out of all rated tornadoes. Half last less than 10 min. The average annual number of all tornadoes over land is around 150, including 10 and 2 tornadoes with ≥F2 and ≥F3 intensity, respectively. Annually, 1–2 tornadoes lead to casualties and result in 2.9 fatalities and 36.3 injuries. Despite the incompleteness of the dataset, our results show that tornadoes in NE, although being rare, are not as extremely rare as has been thought before. The results illustrate the substantial underestimation of tornado threat by the general public, researchers, and meteorologists, and unambiguously indicate the need for systematic assessments and forecasting of tornadoes by national weather services.

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Pieter Groenemeijer, Tomáš Púčik, Alois M. Holzer, Bogdan Antonescu, Kathrin Riemann-Campe, David M. Schultz, Thilo Kühne, Bernold Feuerstein, Harold E. Brooks, Charles A. Doswell III, Hans-Joachim Koppert, and Robert Sausen

Abstract

The European Severe Storms Laboratory (ESSL) was founded in 2006 to advance the science and forecasting of severe convective storms in Europe. ESSL was a grassroots effort of individual scientists from various European countries. The purpose of this article is to describe the 10-yr history of ESSL and present a sampling of its successful activities. Specifically, ESSL developed and manages the only multinational database of severe weather reports in Europe: the European Severe Weather Database (ESWD). Despite efforts to eliminate biases, the ESWD still suffers from spatial inhomogeneities in data collection, which motivates ESSL’s research into modeling climatologies by combining ESWD data with reanalysis data. ESSL also established its ESSL Testbed to evaluate developmental forecast products and to provide training to forecasters. The testbed is organized in close collaboration with several of Europe’s national weather services. In addition, ESSL serves a central role among the European scientific and forecast communities for convective storms, specifically through its training activities and the series of European Conferences on Severe Storms. Finally, ESSL conducts wind and tornado damage assessments, highlighted by its recent survey of a violent tornado in northern Italy.

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