AIR Assesses Damages from European Windstorm Emma

March 4, 2008

Boston-based AIR Worldwide is assessing the damages caused by windstorm Emma, which swept across Western and Southern Germany, as well as Austria and the Czech Republic on Saturday, March 1. No damage estimates have yet been made.

The storm’s hurricane force winds and heavy rains “disrupted highway, rail and air transportation, ripped roofs from hundreds of homes, and killed thirteen people,” said AIR. Emma also caused some minor damage in Belgium, the Netherlands, and the UK.

Dr. Peter Dailey, director of atmospheric science at AIR Worldwide, described the storm’s progress across Northern Europe, beginning on Friday. Its lowest atmospheric pressure was 960 millibars, which resulted in “strong winds and thunderstorms,” that accompanied Emma’s cold front, “which extended southward and raked across the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic.”

Winds reached speeds up to 130 kph (78 mph). “At these wind speeds, residential buildings are likely to sustain damage to roof coverings and chimneys,” Dailey continued. “Agricultural buildings and greenhouses are likely to sustain roof damage, while other light metal structures could experience overall damage to walls. Commercial structures are better engineered and should not sustain much damage at all at these wind speeds.”

Emma disrupted transport networks across Germany, causing numerous traffic collisions, with six persons reported dead from road accidents. The storm toppled trees and caused massive delays in rail travel across the country.

AIR noted: “Emma’s winds knocked out more than 5,000 transformer stations in Germany, cutting off electricity to an estimated 150,000 homes. In Hesse, thirty people had to be evacuated to a school gymnasium after the roof of their building was ripped away.

“Airlines were also affected by the weekend’s violent winds. The Frankfurt airport, Germany’s largest, had to cancel almost 200 flights. A Lufthansa Airlines flight yawed and scraped its wing on the ground as it tried to touch down Saturday. Only after several attempts did it land safely. At Amsterdam’s Schiphol International Airport, just one runway could be used for take-offs and landings.

“Elsewhere in Europe, winds cut power to 10,000 homes in Austria. In the Czech Republic, some 92,000 people (about 10 percent of the population) lost power. A few hundred were still without electricity today.

“In Poland, Emma ripped roofs off 260 homes. Flooding caused a bridge to collapse in Romania, and officials there closed four ports on the Black Sea. Flooding was also a concern in the Netherlands, where sea barriers were monitored in the face of high waves on the North Sea. In Britain, Emma’s winds knocked freight off a train and prompted officials to close the West Coast rail line. In the port of Felixstowe on the east coast, the storm damaged cranes.”

AIR said its “meteorologists are gathering all available observational data and running the AIR European windstorm model to assess the hazard and estimate insured losses from Windstorm Emma.”

Source: AIR Worldwide –

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.