Destructive Tornado Close to Rome

  • The strong tornado passed close to the city of Rome. Source: Daniele Calabrese,

    The tornado caused large amounts of damage, killing two people and injuring dozens. Source: EPA

  • Destructive Tornado Close to Rome
    13.11.2016 18:53

    On the 6th of November 2016 a massive tornado in Italy affected two little cities really close to Rome, Ladispoli and Cesano, causing 2 deaths, several injuries and lots of damage. Italy is not new to this kind of atmospheric phenomenon, but this tornado is likely to have been one of the most powerful and destructive over the last few years in the Italian peninsula. 

    Tornadoes are not rare in Italy but usually they show up over the sea as waterspouts, often remaining offshore, or they do not exceed the first one or two degrees of the Enhanced Fujita scale. The tornado on the 6th of November will be probably classified as EF3 or EF4, with winds up to 150-170 mph. There are several reasons this tornado was so intense.

    First of all, the synoptic situation over Europe was characterised by a solid block of high pressure in the Atlantic, which was able to drag extremely cold continental and maritime air in the heart of Europe, where a deep low pressure was deepening and developing. At the same time, this area of low pressure was attracting warm air from North Africa which became very humid passing over the Mediterranean Sea. On the 6th of November, the central part of Italy was exactly under this flux known in Italy as “Libeccio”, and was extremely warm and humid thanks also to the still very warm sea surface temperature.

    During the afternoon, the presence of warm and moist air at the ground coming from south-west and colder and dry air aloft coming from north-west, enhanced the instability over the area. Besides, the incoming trough associated with the low pressure over central Europe, the convergence of winds from W-SW and S-SW at the ground and the acceleration of the jet stream at higher level of the atmosphere, intensified the instability, allowing strong convective updrafts and the development of an intense supercell over the Lazio region, just a few kilometres from Rome.

    This kind of thunderstorm has the important characteristic of rotating, which is caused by the vertical shear of the winds. At this point, a funnel cloud reached the sea surface in front of the coast strengthening and moving inland towards Ladispoli, where a person was killed by a falling tree. The tornado then travelled at a significant velocity and hit, after a few minutes, Cesano, another small town, killing another person.

    Along its path, the tornado crushed trees, power lines, but also lifted roofs, partially destroyed a side of a school and lifted and moved cars. The seriousness of the damage suggests that the tornado reached the intensity of EF3 or EF4 but a survey will be required to make a better estimate.



    By: Alessio Martini