Tornado left 5 km trail of destruction in Gelderland town; storm damage mounting

Amsterdam Centrum
A light drizzle and breeze along Oudezijds Achterburgwal in the center of Amsterdam. 4 June 2019Photo: NL Times

A category F1 tornado hit the Gelderland town of Rheden on Tuesday, meteorologist of the weather institute in Wageningen concluded after going to investigate the a path of destruction of what was initially called a whirlwind, which was between four and five kilometers in length. More and more storm damage reports are coming in from across the country. Insurer Interpolis alone already received 230 damage reports, six times more than usual after a storm, a spokesperson said to AD.

The trail of destruction left by the tornado was clearly visible and followed from the provincial road in Rheden towards Velp, through the meadows, towards Posbank, according to and researchers at MeteoGroup. The weather institute in Wageningen is also currently mapping trail the tornado followed. "Inside that the damage is really huge", the company's Weather Room Manager Reinout van den Born said to a local broadcaster.

"There was no damage outside the path of the tornado," said on its website. "The trail can even be followed in the meadows, the grass has been flattened and sucked away. A little further on the grass stands upright."

The organization determined the wind speed of the tornado to be 150 km/h. A tornado rises above F0 and becomes F1 on the Fujita scale when it reaches 117 km/h. Over 180 km/h qualifies as a F2 tornado.

Emergency services in Gelderland received over a hundred reports of damage. The destruction is particularly visible on De Del street in Rheden. Trees fell onto houses and multiple cars are buried under branches. The sports park in Rheden was also damaged - part of the canteen's roof was blown off. The fire department called it a "very serious situation". 

Mayor Carol van Eert of Rheden is shocked by the damages caused by the storm "Rheden has become unrecognizable", he said to Omroep Gelderland. "So many trees have been uprooted and some even fell against houses. We are working hard to repair the damage and make Rheden safe again. Because safety is the most important thing now, people have to be sure that the can go about safely."

Safety is a major concern when dealing with the damages left by Tuesday's storms, especially since more stormy weather is set to hit the Netherlands on Wednesday night.

The thunderstorms also caused major damage elsewhere in Gelderland. The roof of a barn was blown off on De Plak in Bemmel. Around eight trees were blown over at primary school IKC 't Holthuus in Huissen, causing damage to the school buildings and its playground. In Nijmegen a fallen tree broke a gas pipe. The fire department cordoned off a wide area around the broken pipe, due to concerns that an explosion may occur.

Insurers are also receiving numerous reports of fallen trees causing damage in other provinces. In Eindhoven a fallen tree landed on a car containing a woman and three small children. As far as is known, none of them were hurt. In the Overijssel village of Zwartsluis, four people were hurt when trees fell onto two moving cars. One of the victims had to be hospitalized. A tree also fell on a car in Emmeloord, according to Omroep Flevoland. 

In Alkmaar the storm resulted in the street lighting going out, according to NH Nieuws. And in the Drenthe municipality of Noordenveld, multiple fire departments have been working since midnight to clear the main roads of fallen branches, trees and other debris, according to NOS. 

The devastating storms were caused by a "cocktail of multiple meteorological ingredients", Weerplaza meteorologist Wilfred Janssen said to "The air was arm and humid on Tuesday, a condition for thunderstorms. In addition, a southwest wind was blowing on the ground, while higher a southwest wind was blowing. This difference in wind direction created swirls, giving the thunderstorms an extra boost."