A Tornado in Milan Produced Some Extraordinary (and Foolhardy) Videos

Philip Bump

We will begin with the following disclaimer: You should not stand behind a window in your office and film a tornado. Yes, a guy in Milan, Italy, did that yesterday, and, yes, the video is amazing, but safety first. Twelve people were injured in the storm. Which made us wonder: how often does Italy see these kind of tornados?

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First things first. Here is the footage recorded by Signore Carlo Danger (probably not his real name).

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That comes via the Washington Post, which also recommends against standing behind glass while large objects fly around on the other side. The Post has other videos of the storm, but the compilation below, from YouReporter.it, captures the event well.

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It is natural, in our modern, weird-weather times, to wonder if the storm in Italy is abnormal, extreme weather for which we can thank our decades of greenhouse gas production. And, as always, the answer is: It's hard to tell.

But in this case, probably not. When there was a similar cluster of tornadoes in Italy earlier this year, the Weather Underground considered the question. After all, tornadoes are exceptionally common in the United States, and distinctly less so in most other countries. So are tornadoes in Italy unusual? No, is their short answer:

Italian tornadoes are not unusual. According to Severe Weather Expert, Dr. Greg Forbes, Italy has the sixth highest tornado density (per 10,000 square miles) of all nations where such data exists. In 2012, 12 tornadoes were reported in Italy, according to the European Severe Weather Database.

One of the reasons that the United States has so many tornadoes — ten times as many as the next-most commonly struck country, Canada — is that we have vast expanses of open space. In 2003, the BBC noted that many of the tornadoes that hit in and around Europe are waterspouts — tornadoes that strike over water. Earlier this week, a dramatic photo taken in 1999 made its way around the internet, showing a series of waterspouts in the Adriatic Sea, just east of Italy.

Please note what the photographer in that photo (identified by Earth Science Picture of the Day as Roberto Giudici) did that was smart: He took the photo from hundreds of yards away.