Strong and violent tornadoes? F4s and F5s? In Europe? Indeed, violent tornadoes are reported also in Europe, and one of the more prolific areas is Italy.

Approximately 600 tornadoes are reported to European Severe Storms Laboratory anually (662 in 2016). This is about half the number that is reported in the USA. A notable number of tornadoes reported in Europe are in Italy. The country enjoys a number of favourable meteorological factors that make it one of European hotspots for tornadoes.

Number of tornadoes per 10 000 square kilometers as reported to the European Severe Weather Database. For more details see
Antonescu et al. (2017): Tornadoes in Europe – an underestimated threat.

The warm waters of the Mediterranean sea, particularly the Ligurian, Tyyrhenian and Adriatic seas provide ample moisture. Deep troughs reach far south into the country and numerous cutoff lows form. The plains of north Italy see frequent severe thunderstorms throughout late spring, summer and early autumn, including a number of tornadic supercells. Squall lines in the Ligurian and Tyyrhenian seas produce tornadoes particularly in late summer and throughout autumn, frequently in setups that also produce damaging flooding. The southern part of Italy experiences tornadoes particularly during late autumn, as deeper troughs push far south, while the warm waters of the central and southern Mediterranean frequently provide high to extreme instability. Coastal areas across the country see many non-mesocyclonic waterspouts from late spring until early winter.

Tornado in Cologna, near Ferrara, N Italy on April 27, 2017! Video: Elisa Pirola.

Strong and violent tornadoes are reported in Italy virtually anually. A violent F4 tornado hit the Dolo-Mira area in Veneto, northeastern Italy, just several kilometers from Venice on July 8, 2015. There was 1 fatality, 72 injuries and over 250 badly damaged or destroyed buildings. Venice itself was hit by an F4 tornado on September 11, 1970 which caused 36 fatalities on a track about 70 km long.

Tornado near Sottomarina, N Italy on April 16, 2017! Photo: Christian Tondo.

Veneto also holds the record for the strongest tornado on record in Italy: the July 24, 1930 Montello tornado – a likely F5 tornado. It produced an 80 km long damage track and killed 24 people. Other notable events in recent years include the May 3, 2013 Emilia Romagna (N Italy) outbreak, the November 6, 2016 Cesano (CNTRL Italy) and the November 28, 2012 Taranto (S Italy) tornadoes.

Check out our selection of Top 10 tornadoes in Italy in recent years: selected for their visual appearance, location they formed at, and strength/rating. Below

June 12, 2012 Venezia, Veneto (north Italy) F1 tornado

Venice definitely is a regional hot spot for tornadoes. A photogenic, and fortunately mostly benign tornado touched down in the Venice lagoon in the morning of June 12, 2012. The F1 tornado produced a 10.5 km damage track, mostly across the lagoon. Another tornado with a 10 km track touched down less than an hour later (10 am local) just to the northeast, near Jesolo.

December 1, 2017 San Remo (northwest Italy) waterspouts

Several of spectacular waterspouts formed over the coast of the Ligurian sea near San Remo, NW Italy on December 1, 2017. The region was under a cold core upper low, a typical winter setup for non-mesocyclonic waterspouts.

Report: Météo Côte D’Azur – En Direct.

Report: Report: Bassa Pianura Padana Photo e Meteo ❄.

Report: Beatrice Streppa.

Report: The storm Europe.

June 4, 2016 Sottomarina (north Italy) F1 tornado

An F1 tornado touched down along the beach in Sottomarina, northern Italy on June 4, 2016. The event did not produce significant damage, or cause any injuries, but was recorded well by numerous eyewitnesses.

July 29, 2013 Terzzo sull’Adda (north) Italy F2 tornado

This F2 tornado touched down near Milano, ne of three tornadoes to touch down int he region on that afternoon. The tornado produced a 15 km damage track and injured 12 people. Damage from this tornado was estimated at approximately 15 million €.


April 30, 2014 Nonantola, Emilia Romagna (north Italy) tornado

A damaging tornado hit the urban area near Nonantola, Emilia-Romagna, northern Italy on April 30, 2014. It produced a 12 km track, producing significant damage and injuring 5 people.

May 3, 2013 Emilia Romagna (north Italy) tornadoes

At least 2 tornadoes touched down on two separate tornadic supercells over the eastern Po plain on the afternoon of May 2, 2013. An F2 tornado was on the ground for 30 minutes, producing a 15 km damage track with peak strength in Gavello and San Martino Spino. The second tornado of similar intensity was on the ground for 10 minutes, accompanied by a severe hailstorm with hail up to 8 cm in diameter. The second tornado produced maximum damage near Argelato, San Giorgio di Piano and Bentivoglio.

November 6, 2016 Cesano, Roma (central Italy) F3 tornado

A strong, rapidly moving long-tracked F3 tornado hit the area between Ladispoli and Cesano, central Italy on November 6, 2016. Cesano, where the worst damage was reported, is located approximately 30 km northwest of Rome. The damage track was 41 km long. Two fatalities and one injury ere reported with this tornado.

The forming tornado coming ashore from the Tyrrhenian sea in Ladispoli.

November 20, 2019 Taurisano (Lecce), Puglia tornado

The tornado downed trees, collapsed, blew of metal roofing. A train was hit by a downed tree. No injuries reported.

November 28, 2012 Taranto, Puglia (south Italy) tornado

This spectacular big stovepipe/wedge F3 tornado – looking almost like an identical twin to the Tuscaloosa tornado of the 2011 outbreak – hit Taranto in Puglia, southern Italy on November 28, 2012. The tornado produced a 14 km damage track, producing widespread damage. It also caused 1 fatality and 40 injuries.

July 8, 2015 Dolo-Mira, Veneto (north Italy) F4 tornado

We finish the list the strongest tornado in Italy in recent years. It hit the urban area between Dolo and Mira, just west of Venice. The damage track of the F4 tornado was 11.5 km long and up to 1 km wide. The tornado badly damaged or destroyed about 250 houses, killing 1 person and injuring 72.

For more information on tornadoes in Europe see the following two papers:
Tornadoes in Europe: Synthesis of the observational datasets and A Climatology of Tornadoes in Europe: Results from the European Severe Weather Database