Massive Hail Pummels Central Italy

Conditions were ripe overnight Friday into Saturday morning in Central Italy for severe thunderstorms – these brought very large, damaging hail to the region.

A large upper level trough to the west of Italy, slowly digging eastward provided sufficient lift, as well as strong upper level winds contributing to sufficient shear being in place for severe storms. Ahead of this trough, a large area of very warm, moist air originating from the Mediterranean was present. In this warm and unstable environment, MLCAPEs of 3,000J/kg were in place which was more than enough to sustain strong updrafts. Finally, slicing into this airmass was the cold front which acted as a mechanism to trigger the storms. With all of this combined ESTOFEX (European Forecasting Storm Experiment) had issued a maximum level three watch area – meaning that there was a 15% chance of “extremely severe weather” being reported within the area of concern.

This forecast definitely checked out. On Saturday morning, local time, a supercell fired over the Tyrrhenian Sea (which later evolved into a well-organized MCS) and brought with it 10-12cm diameter hail to the city of Pozzuoli Italy, located near Naples. To put this into perspective, you would need an updraft velocity speed of roughly 170km/h to suspend a hailstone of that size. Widespread damage occurred to an estimated 70,000 buildings, vehicles could be seen with major dents and blown out windshields and crops/livestock sustained major damage in the area, thankfully there were no injuries to residents reported.

Elsewhere in Weather News: November 15th, 2014

More Flooding Hits Italy

Italy has seen its fair share of rainfall this past week, especially in the northern tier of the country including the city of Milan. Trouble started off in early November when a system originating from the Mediterranean Sea brought abnormal amounts of moisture into the region, producing heavy rainfall over a sizeable portion of Italy. This system, associated with a slow moving negatively tilted trough, dug down into southwestern Europe and triggered isolated thunderstorms and widespread rain. The system dumped copious amounts of rainfall – over 100mm fell in northern parts of Italy. With already saturated grounds from previous events in the past few weeks, this meant trouble for some villages.

Milan and surrounding areas saw the worst of the flooding. Subway systems were inundated with water, streets were flooded with over a foot of water and schools were forced to close. Two rivers in the region, the Seveso and Lambro, overflowed their banks and contributed to the flooding. The flooding is responsible for five deaths and estimated damages in excess of 100 million dollars.

Significant repairs will have to be done to this central Milan canal wall and road which collapsed due to the saturated ground below that gave way. (Source: @SimoneEneaRicco)
Significant repairs will have to be done to this central Milan canal wall and road which collapsed due to the saturated ground below that gave way. (Source: @SimoneEneaRicco)

Northern Italy will remain soggy over the weekend, with another 10-20mm expected due to the same slow moving trough which continues to linger. Throughout November Milan usually sees about 100mm of precipitation, but just half-way through they have already surpassed it.

By the beginning of next week there’s a good chance that things will start to clear up as a weak ridge builds in.

Elsewhere in Weather News: November 29th, 2013

Flooding Affects Italy

Severe flooding has been taking place in Sardinia, Italy this past week causing residents to rush for higher ground. Sardinia is one of Italy’s islands located in the Mediterranean Sea; about 1.7 million Italians reside here. An upper level low drew in moist air from the Mediterranean Sea and spun just off the coast of Sardinia, causing for some significant flooding on the island. Rainfall totals generally ranged between 35 and 50mm on the island, which is over half of their monthly total for November.


Severe flooding in the city of Uras, on the island of Sardinia. (Source: AP)
Severe flooding in the city of Uras, on the island of Sardinia. (Source: AP)

As this fell in a span of about 24 hours, sewers were unable to handle these large volumes of water in that short period of time. In some areas water levels reached about three meters, causing roads and bridges to be washed away. As of Friday night 18 fatalities had been reported. Several waterspouts and brief tornadoes had also been spawned by this system off of Italy’s coast and on the mainland.

Tornadoes Rip through US Midwest

In last week’s post of EIWN the risk for severe storms affecting the Midwest US had been briefly talked about. The event that occurred on Sunday was a fairly significant event; the moderate risk talked about in last week’s post had been upgraded to a high risk on Sunday – a risk only issued once or twice by the SPC when major severe weather events are imminent. This severe weather event followed up with all the hype ahead of it. In total, 106 tornado reports were received and 74 tornadoes were confirmed. Two of these were classified as EF-4 strength and 33 classified of EF-2 strength and higher, making November 17th a significant tornado outbreak in the Midwest. There were also numerous (400+) wind damage reports scattered from Iowa to New Jersey, as expected with the high shear environment on that day. One of the strongest tornadoes of the day – an EF-4 ripped through the town of Washington, Ill., where some houses were completely ripped apart by the twister. Death toll from the outbreak is at eight but could have been significantly higher if not for the good forecasting and swift warning issuance by NWS.


Map of all the warnings and watches issued on the 17th. Tornado watches/warnings in red and severe thunderstorm watches/warnings in blue. Polygons are the warnings. (Source: SPC)
Map of all the warnings and watches issued on the 17th. Tornado watches/warnings in red and severe thunderstorm watches/warnings in blue. Polygons are the warnings. Click on image to enlarge. (Source: SPC)

Elsewhere in Weather News: August 3rd, 2013

Damaging Tornado Touches Down in Italy

On Tuesday, the 30th of July a strong tornado touched down in the northern part of Italy in the city of Milan. The storm which was associated with the same upper level low as talked about in last week’s EIWN, as well as a very potent shortwave nearby, was fed by very moist air coming straight from the Mediterranean Sea. The conditions were favorable for tornadoes with low cloud bases and a favorable shear profile.

The tornado, rated an EF-2 (winds of 178-217km/h) on the Enhanced Fujita scale, touched down in the industrial part of Milan, called Grezzago. It quickly picked up lots of debris; easily ripped off roofs, snapped trees and even picked up vehicles. One lucky resident caught in the tornado remembers her car being lifted into the air and thrown about 10 meters, she was uninjured. Thankfully, no fatalities came from this tornado, though 15 people were found to have injuries caused by the twister. There easily could have been more injuries, such as the person who was filming this video, had the windows not held up.

Very dangerous video of an office worker watching the tornado from close up. Notice all the debris. (Source: AP)

This is not the first serious tornado Italy has seen this year, back in the beginning of May, a strong EF-3 tornado touched down in the central part of Italy, caused quite a bit of damage as well as injured 20 people. Italy will get a break this weekend as no severe weather outbreaks are expected.