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 annually (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 annually. 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.

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