Cyclone Martin
Clearing damage in Angoulême, 28 December 1999
Meteorological history
Formed26 December 1999
Dissipated28 December 1999
Extratropical cyclone
Highest gusts200 km/h (120 mph)
Lowest pressure962 hPa (mbar); 28.41 inHg
Overall effects
Damage6 billion (1999)
Areas affectedFrance, Spain, Switzerland, Italy

Part of the 1999–2000 European windstorm season

Cyclone Martin[1] was an extremely violent European windstorm which crossed southern Europe on 27–28 December 1999, causing severe damage across France, Spain, Switzerland and Italy one day after Cyclone Lothar had affected more northerly areas. Wind speeds reached around 200 km/h (120 mph) in French department of Charente-Maritime. The storm caused 30 fatalities[2] and €6 billion in damages.[3] Combined with Lothar, Cyclone Martin is often referred to as the Storm of the Century in western and central Europe.[3]

Meteorological history

December 1999 saw a series of heavy winter storms cross the North Atlantic and western Europe. In early December, Great Britain and Denmark were hit by Cyclone Anatol which caused severe damage in Denmark. A second storm then crossed Europe on 12 December.[4]

A very deep and sizeable depression, named Cyclone Kurt,[3] moved across Britain on the night of 24–25 December, analysed to have possibly reached a low of 938 mb between Scotland and Norway.[5] This set up a large area of westerly flow into Europe, along which Cyclone Lothar was rapidly carried into mainland Europe. This highly unstable situation inevitably meant low predictability, and saw an unusually straight and strong jet stream (similar circumstances were also noted the day before the arrival of the Great Storm of 1987).[6]

Cyclones Lothar (L) and Martin (M) viewed by satellite on 26 December 1999

Following along the Jet Stream immediately behind Lothar, Cyclone Martin then struck France and central Europe from 26 to 28 December 1999.

Atmospheric conditions remained unstable over western Europe, and at the end of January 2000 two additional damaging storms crossed Denmark and the northern part of Germany.[4]


Cyclone Martin caused extensive damage to property and trees across southern France. In terms of felled trees, 13 million m3 (460 million cu ft) of wood in Switzerland[7] and 140 million m3 (4,900 million cu ft) were felled in France.[8] The French and German national power grids were also left badly affected, with more than 200 electricity pylons destroyed.[3]

Buildings and infrastructure suffered major damage throughout Martin's path, and mains power and safety systems were knocked out in many places. The storm surge from Cyclone Martin led to severe flooding at the Blayais Nuclear Power Plant, resulting in a Level 2 nuclear incident on the International Nuclear Event Scale.[9]

Highest winds

Below is a table of the highest wind speeds recorded during Cyclone Martin.[10][11]

Country Place Speed
France Saint-Denis-d'Oléron (17) 198 km/h (123 mph)
Royan (17) 194 km/h (121 mph)
Cap Ferret (33) 173 km/h (107 mph)
Île d'Yeu (85) 162 km/h (101 mph)
Clermont-Ferrand (63) 159 km/h (99 mph)
La Rochelle (17) 151 km/h (94 mph)
Limoges (87) 148 km/h (92 mph)
Bordeaux (33) 144 km/h (89 mph)
Toulouse (31) 141 km/h (88 mph)

See also


  1. ^ "1999 Windstorm naming lists". FU-Berlin. January 2000. Archived from the original on 7 September 2017. Retrieved 9 December 2011.
  2. ^ Tatge, Yörn. "Looking Back, Looking Forward: Anatol, Lothar and Martin Ten Years Later". Air-Worldwide. Retrieved 30 May 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d "Christmas 20 years ago: Storms Lothar and Martin wreak havoc across Europe". Swiss Re. Swiss Re Group. Retrieved 12 October 2020.
  4. ^ a b Brüdl, M.; Rickli, C. (2002). "The storm Lothar 1999 in Switzerland – an incident analysis" (PDF). Forest Snow and Landscape Research. 77: 207–216. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 April 2015. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  5. ^ Brown, Paul R. (February 2000). "A brief note on the intense depressions of late December 1999 over Western Europe" (PDF). Journal of Meteorology. 25. Retrieved 13 January 2017.
  6. ^ "Windstorms Lothar and Martin" (PDF). RMS Risk Management Solutions. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 December 2013. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  7. ^ Michel Spicher (4 January 2005). "L'ouragan Lothar, un cataclysme dans le monde forestier" (in French). Site officiel du Canton de Fribourg (Suisse). Archived from the original on 19 March 2007. Retrieved 29 December 2006.
  8. ^ Michel Denis (10 May 2004). "Expertise collective suite aux dégâts en forêt lors des tempêtes de décembre 1999" (in French). Cemagref. Archived from the original on 26 September 2009. Retrieved 29 December 2006.
  9. ^ COMMUNIQUE N°7 – INCIDENT SUR LE SITE DU BLAYAIS Archived May 27, 2013, at the Wayback Machine ASN, published 30 December 1999, Retrieved 22 March 2011
  10. ^ "Les vents de l'enfer". L'est républicain. 9 December 2009. Archived from the original on 4 March 2010. Retrieved 8 March 2010.
  11. ^ "Les tempêtes de décembre 1999". Météo-France. 28 December 1999. Retrieved 8 March 2010.