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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2017-314
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
06 Sep 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences (NHESS).
Re-Analysis of one of the deadliest Tornadoes in European History and its implications
Alois M. Holzer1, Thomas M. E. Schreiner1,2, and Tomáš Púčik1 1ESSL, European Severe Storms Laboratory, Wiener Neustadt, 2700, Austria
2Skywarn Austria, Steyr, 4400, Austria
Abstract. Extremely rare events with high potential impact, like tornadoes, are of strong interest for climatology and risk assessment – especially though not only in the context of climate change – but difficult to tackle statistically. In order to widen the data basis especially for the scarcest high-end tornadoes, it is vital to study historical events. It could be speculated that a windstorm catastrophe that happened about 100 years ago is difficult to re-analyze, as the one that happened in Wiener Neustadt, Lower Austria, on 10 July 1916. The present paper demonstrates feasibility in the given case and proposes a working method for similar requirements.

After presenting the methodology, a chronological description of the environmental atmospheric conditions and of the tornado itself is given, followed by results and new findings compared to a historical scientific study that was published soon after the event. Our analyses found complex thunderstorm activity in the study area and revealed an untypical tornado genesis – with only single parallels in US severe storms literature of the 20th century. For the urban area of Wiener Neustadt rich data sources allowed us to draw a detailed picture of damage tracks and hence wind strength in the tornado. Also the originally stated number of fatalities needs to be corrected upwards.

In the outlook we postulate the requirement for an International Fujita Scale to rate tornadoes worldwide in a consistent way. Comparable damage indicators are required for this to be useable. We also stress the side-benefits of the given study for the field of civil protection, namely to serve as an exercise scenario and as a basis for public awareness rising.


Citation: Holzer, A. M., Schreiner, T. M. E., and Púčik, T.: Re-Analysis of one of the deadliest Tornadoes in European History and its implications, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2017-314, in review, 2017.
Alois M. Holzer et al.
Alois M. Holzer et al.
Alois M. Holzer et al.

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The study of a historical tornado that occurred about 100 years ago was motivated by the fact that rich photo material of the inflicted damage was available. It is important to rate especially strong tornadoes, because their number is in general low, and statistics of the frequency for such events and the subsequent risk assessment heavily rely on a sound data basis. We found out that the tornado reached intensity F4 on the Fujita Scale (maximum winds around 105 m/s) and caused 34 fatalities.
The study of a historical tornado that occurred about 100 years ago was motivated by the fact...
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