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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2019-371
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2019-371
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 25 Nov 2019

Submitted as: research article | 25 Nov 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences (NHESS).

Investigation of the weather conditions during the collapse of the Morandi Bridge in Genoa on 14 August 2018

Massimiliano Burlando1, Djordje Romanic1,2, Giorgio Boni1, Martina Lagasio3, and Antonio Parodi3 Massimiliano Burlando et al.
  • 1Department of Civil, Chemical and Environmental Engineering, University of Genoa, Genoa, Italy
  • 2Wind Engineering, Energy and Environment (WindEEE) Research Institute, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada
  • 3CIMA Research Foundation, Savona, Italy

Abstract. On 14 August 2018, Morandi Bridge in Genoa, Italy, collapsed sending vehicles and tons of rubble to the ground about 40 m below and killing 43 people. Preliminary investigations indicated poor design, questionable building practices and insufficient maintenance or a combination of these factors as a possible cause of collapse. However, at the time of collapse, a thunderstorm associated with strong winds, lightning and rain was developed over the city. While it is still not clear whether or not it played a role in this disaster, the present paper documents the weather conditions during the collapse and analyzes in detail a downburst that occurred at the time of the collapse a few kilometers from the bridge. The thunderstorm is analyzed using direct and remote measurements in an attempt to describe the evolution of the cumulonimbus cloud as it approached the coast from the sea. The detected downburst is investigated using a lidar scanner and the anemometric network in the Port of Genoa. The paper shows that the unique lidar measurements enabled a partial reconstruction of the gust front shape and displacement velocity. The Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) simulations, carried out with three different forcing conditions, forecasted the cumuliform convection at larger scales but did not accurately replicate the downburst signature at the surface that was measured by radar, lidar, and anemometers. This result demonstrates that the localized wind conditions during the collapse time could not be operationally forecasted.

Massimiliano Burlando et al.
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Short summary
This paper investigates the weather conditions during the collapse of the Morandi bridge, which caused 43 fatalities. Despite a thunderstorm developed over the city at the time of collapse, weather is officially ruled out as a contributing factor for it. A meteorological analysis is relevant to support this hypothesis or possibly reconsider it. The analysis, mainly based on measurements complemented with numerical simulations, reveals that quite strong winds occurred at the time of collapse.
This paper investigates the weather conditions during the collapse of the Morandi bridge, which...
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