The intensity and destructive power with which the storm swept over Austria on Thursday afternoon came as a surprise to many, even experts. Because the weather models can help predict storms and their estimated path. One fact remains, however: Thunderstorms are unpredictable to some extent.
Just looking at the weather app often teaches that forecasts don’t always have to be correct. More than once in the recent past, for example, the forecast for the federal capital didn’t come true because the storm front just scraped past Vienna.
Even a thunderstorm with such devastating consequences as Thursday’s hit Austria almost without warning. In the afternoon there was only an orange weather warning for Upper Carinthia and East Tyrol, and a yellow one for Lower Carinthia, Christian Stefan, head of ZAMG in Klagenfurt, confirmed in an interview with APA.
Thunderstorms quickly developed more intense than expected
“According to the morning assessments, most weather models have shown that more severe thunderstorms can occur in Upper Carinthia and East Tyrol.” These models would not have well received that the storm would then move to the east. The storm also quickly developed more violently than the models had calculated. To some extent, thunderstorms are unpredictable, it’s “hard to estimate where they will then arise and fall,” Stefan says.
Deadly gusts lasted just seconds
The front in Corsica and Italy had already caused devastating damage in the morning and the first deaths had already been reported. The system then moved with tremendous intensity and in an extremely short time from Italy to Carinthia. The storm in the Lavant Valley lasted just ten minutes and the gusts that killed two little girls, ages three and eight, lasted just seconds.
Wind maybe even stronger
Besides the human suffering, the devastation wrought was enormous. It is also possible that at certain points the wind was even stronger than recorded at the measuring points: “It is possible that there were also hurricane values,” says Stefan.
The storm then moved further east, power pylons in Styria collapse as if they were matches, and on to Lower Austria. There, five hikers in gaming were completely taken by surprise by the storm. Three died from a falling tree.
Damage in the millions
The degree of destruction is also enormous. On Friday, the hail insurance reported a total damage of two million euros in agriculture in southern Austria. In the Wiener Städtische this is significantly more. This expects “several thousand damages in the amount of five million euros”, Wiener Städtische managing director Doris Wendler said in a broadcast.