Understanding convective storms and their perils in the current and future climate (TEMPEST)


Implementation period: September 2020-August 2022

Objective: To transform our knowledge about severe convective storms in Europe by considering their risk, impact and predictability from a multi-hazard, pan-European perspective.

Although the United States is home to some of the most violent and frequent severe storms on Earth, other parts of the world are not immune. For example, during a violent tornado outbreak that occurred over France, Belgium and the Netherlands on 24-25 June 1967, 15 people were killed and over 400 houses were destroyed. Besides tornadoes, other hazards associated with severe storms such as large hail, damaging winds and lightning can also result in the loss of life and property. Despite these high-profile, unforecasted, and costly events, the total number of European severe storms, their associated environments, and their costs (i.e. damages, injuries, and fatalities) is largely unknown. Recently, new datasets have become available that will allow a step-change in our ability to understand European severe storms. These datasets serve as a starting point for this proposed research programme which focuses on understanding 1) the current spatial and temporal distribution of severe storms, 2) the environments in which they develop and evolve, and 3) their impacts, from a multihazard, pan-European perspective.

Understanding severe storms in Europe goes beyond purely academic interest. Knowing the distribution in space and time of severe storms is critical to the following organisations. Forecasters will benefit from knowing the environmental conditions under which severe storms occur to help them know when and where storms will strike (e.g. seasonal forecasts). Emergency managers and first responders (e.g. firefighters, civil protection agencies) can better plan the distribution of assets and resources needed to respond to severe storms. Insurers and economists will need this knowledge to estimate the risk that they are taking in large hail, damaging winds, tornado and lightning insurance for specific portfolios. Climate scientists interested in how extreme weather will change will benefit from having a documented dataset to compare present climate to future climate.

Estimated results:

  • An overview of the European and regional sources with severe weather reports.
  • A web-based user interface to extract data and to construct regional or pan-European climatologies for different parameters
  • Bias-corrected climatology of severe convective storms in Europe.
  •  The spatial and temporal analysis of injuries, fatalities and damages associated with severe convective storms in Europe.
  •  Severe convective storms vulnerability in Europe.
  • 3 paper in ISI journal