Author Archives: Michele Lai

About Michele Lai

Michèle joined RMS in 2013, and is based at the RMS Zurich office as part of the Model Product Management team, focusing on European climatic hazard models. After previously working on Europe Windstorm models, Michèle is now the product manager for the new RMS® Europe Severe Convective Storm HD Models. She holds a master’s degree in Atmospheric and Climate Science from ETH Zurich.

Tornadoes in Europe

On March 12, 2018, an EF2 tornado struck the Italian city of Caserta, located about 30 kilometers (18 miles) north of Naples. The tornado caused damage to cars, buildings, and road infrastructure, with 15 people reported injured.

Figure 1: A tornado hits Caserta, Italy, March 12, 2018. Image source: www.meteoservice.net

This was a classical supercellular tornado. This type of tornado forms in a specific type of supercellular thunderstorm, which has the peculiarity of having a vortex of rising air inside — called a mesocyclone, and this is where tornadogenesis starts. Rainfall in the thunderstorm produces a downdraft, called rear-flank downdraft (RFD) in this case, which enters the mesocyclone from the back. The combined updraft (from the mesocyclone) and downdraft (from the RFD) create a tornado.

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Severe Convective Storm Season Starts in Europe

Michèle Lai, Product Manager, RMS

Contributors: James Cosgrove, Analyst – Event Response, RMS; Juergen Grieser, Director, RMS

The European severe convective storm (SCS) season has kicked off. The heatwave that scorched the continent for the best part of a week set the ideal conditions for deep convection. I am based at the RMS Zürich office, and as everyone enjoyed this heatwave, cooling off by going swimming after work, the potential risk of thunderstorms was never too far from our minds.

The season started with a series of supercells hitting France on June 13 and June 15, continued Thursday, June 22 in Germany and then moved on towards eastern Europe.

Although usually less severe than their U.S. counterparts, SCS in Europe can produce extensive losses, such as Andreas in 2013 with EUR 2.9 billion insured losses (2013 USD $3.9 billion) and Ela in 2014, EUR 2 billion insured losses (2014 USD $2.2 billion).

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