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Cyclone Emma 2008
TypeEuropean windstorm, Extratropical cyclone, derecho
Formed28 February 2008
Dissipated7 March 2008
Highest gust236 km/h (147 mph) Krippenstein, Austria
Lowest pressure959 mb (28.3 inHg)
Areas affectedBelgium, Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Czech Republic

Cyclone Emma was an extratropical cyclone that passed through several mainly Central European countries, on Saturday 1 March 2008, killing at least twelve people in Austria, Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic.[2] Wind speeds reached up to 155–180 km/h (96–112 mph) in Austria and the Czech Republic.[3] Major infrastructure disruptions and some injuries were also reported in Belgium, France, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.[4]

A Lufthansa jet almost crashed attempting to land in crosswinds at Hamburg.[5]

Meteorological context

On 28 February 2008, a low-pressure area formed near Newfoundland. The pressure in its center was around 985 hPa (29.1 inHg) at the time of formation. Within a few hours, the depression had strengthened a lot, and had deepened to 959 hPa (28.3 inHg) near the Faroe Islands. On the evening of 29 February, the warm front reaches the German coast, causing great amounts of rain. It is followed around midnight by a cold front, which was shortly followed by violent winds.

Progression of the storm

The front car of an ICE T had been hit by a falling tree near Brühl and was severely damaged.

Germany and the Netherlands are the first hit by the storm. It makes landfall on the evening of 29 February, followed by violent gusts of wind reaching a maximum of 150 km/h (93 mph). In a number of German regions, these gusts push the authorities to stop the railway and car traffics. At the same time, the air traffic of the Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is greatly disturbed. On the seaside, the dam of the Hollandsche Ijssel is claused by precaution. In Belgium, firemen carry out a hundred interventions throughout the night, mainly due to trees being brought down by the wind.

The gusts quickly move towards Bavaria, causing a power outage for nearly 150,000 people. In the wake of the storm, the material damage is of considerable importance, with among other damages, trees were brought down, urban infrastructure and transport is damaged, and the power outage, which makes the authorities expect the financial toll of the storm to go up to "tens of millions euro in damage". In North Rhine-Westphalia, more than a million cube meters of windthrow are reported to have been caused by the storm.

Aside from this, Germany is also the country that suffered the highest death toll, with 6 left dead.

On the morning of 1 March, as the storm is moving to the south-east, gusts cause two accidents. A tree falls on the Intercity-Express. Shortly after, an Airbus A320 of the Lufthansa nearly crashes on the runway of the airport of Hamburg. As the gusts destabilize the plane, the pilot barely manages to land.[5]

In France, the region of Alsace is affected by the storm too. In the commune of Pfastatt, part of the roof of a supermarket is torn away, leading to a preventive evacuation.

In Austria, the storm pushes the government to cut access to several roads and motorways. Important damage is reported in a number of locations, while winds reaching 190 km/h (120 mph) are measured in the Austrian Alps. In Salzburg and Vienna, winds reaching 140 km/h (87 mph). In the latter, a crane falls down on the Südbahnhof and nearly 10,000 homes suffer from a power outage.

In Switzerland and Liechtenstein, where the winds reach and sometimes go over 200 km/h (120 mph), several people are wounded. The A1 and A3 motorways are temporarily closed to traffic due to trees brought down on the roadways.[6]

Poland is also affected by the storm. A train linking Warsaw and Kraków is cancelled due to security concerns, while important material damage and the death of two people are reported. Thousands of homes are also the victims of a power outage.

In the Czech Republic, the region of Prague is swept with winds reaching 140 km/h (87 mph). In the capital city, the roof of a building is torn out, leading to the evacuation of forty residents. A power outage caused by damaged power lines affects 920,000 homes, which represents around 10% of the Czech population, and the railway traffic is heavily disturbed. The total cost of the storm in the country is estimated to be of several hundreds of million Czech crowns by the largest Czech assurance company, Ceska Pojistovna. Two people are killed by the storm.[6]

As the storm came to a close, floods caused by heavy rain affect several affected areas, like Bavaria.

Death toll

See also


  1. ^ "Windstorm Emma" (PDF). guycarp.com. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 March 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2012.
  2. ^ "Hurricane Emma kills nine in central Europe". EuroNews. 1 March 2008. Retrieved 2 March 2008.
  3. ^ Heinrich, Mark (1 March 2008). "High winds kill eight and cut power in central Europe". Reuters. Retrieved 2 March 2008.
  4. ^ "Violent storms kill eight, disrupt transport in Europe". Agence France Presse. 1 March 2008. Archived from the original on 5 March 2008. Retrieved 2 March 2008.
  5. ^ a b "German jet almost crashes (1:30)". Reuters. 3 March 2008. Retrieved 14 March 2021.
  6. ^ a b "La tempête "Emma" fait 9 morts et de sérieux dégâts en Europe". La Dépêche. 2 March 2008. Retrieved 10 January 2019.