Tornado leaves one dead, ten hurt in Zeeland community
One person was killed and ten others were injured after a funnel cloud blew through Zierikzee on Monday afternoon, the Zeeland Security Region said. No information was available about the extent of the victims' injuries. The tornado also caused a great deal of havoc on several streets in the town of nearly 12,000 residents, with up to 20 rental homes damaged to the point where they were uninhabitable. Emergency services crews were deployed en masse. Weather website Weeronline estimated that the tornado measured at either F1 or F2 on the Fujita Scale.
The roofs were blown off of several buildings on many streets, including Calandweg. On that street, the roof of a whole row of houses was torn off and landed on the road. Ten to twenty rental homes were badly damaged by the storm on Monday that residents were not able to live in theme, confirmed Marco van der Wel, the director of the Zeeuwland housing association. "There was a renovation project going on there," says Van der Wel. "One of the people working there was injured."
The municipality of Schouwen-Duiveland will arrange shelter for the residents. There were broken roof tiles lying on the ground at many points. Trees were also blown down, and windows were smashed. At least one resident of a house that Zeeuwland rents out was also injured.
"The damage is considerable on several streets in Zierikzee," the security office said in its first details about the situation. Both the fire brigade and ambulances were sent to the Zeeland site. Police officers were also cordoning off areas. Several emergency crews were dispatched to Zierikzee just after 1 p.m., and the situation was upgraded to a Grip 1 emergency soon after. The alarm was elevated to a Grip 2 emergency just after 1:45 p.m. The protocol is used when an incident effects an entire municipality and a surrounding region. It calls for all first responders to organize under a single incident commander, with the establishment of a regional command post.
Windhoos trekt over Zierikzee (2/2). Credits: Melchior Kater en José Nieuwenhuijse pic.twitter.com/WM5uWFwNOA— SimoneGideonse (@SimoneGideonse) June 27, 2022
Resident Douwe Ouwerkerk was home for lunch when it happened. "It felt like the room was being sucked up in a vacuum, which was quite a strong sensation," he said. Ouwerkerk then saw all sorts of debris flying around his house in the historic city center. The debris flew for dozens of meters, he said. "Roof tiles, a garden pool, something that looked like a tent," he surmised. A photo he sent showed that the umbrellas of a terrace on the central Havenplein was blown to shreds. Other images show that the Havenpark, a little further on, is strewn with broken tree branches.
Another resident, Maurice van den Nouweland, noticed the tornado because a neighbor was already on the street filming the phenomenon from a distance. "When I walked out, I saw it myself," he said. "The funnel cloud kept getting bigger. It reminded me of a scene from America, with those storm chasers."
In the meantime, residents of the Zeeland town are assessing their damage. Wherever possible, they immediately started carrying out repair work. People could be seen fixing the roof of a hospitality business on the Nieuwe Haven.
There was no record showing that the country's national warning system, NL-Alert, was used before the funnel cloud struck the town. An alert was sent out after the incident at about 2:30 p.m., asking people to avoid the area so that emergency workers could work without interruption. The area covered most of the town, including its central district, and stretched west from the seaside to the N56, and to the north near the village of Schuddebeurs. "Various traffic diversions have been set up on site due to the incident. Follow these directions," the security office stated.
It was a somewhat weaker tornado, despite the considerable damage it caused, according to Weeronline. A tornado can be caused by a severe thunderstorm, when the air spins rapidly below a thundercloud, according to the weather reporting organization. It is comparable to a whirlwind of several tens to several hundred meters wide. They do not often last long, but a very powerful tornado can last for hours.
The strength of a tornado is measured on the Fujita scale, which ranges from 0 for the lightest to 5 for the heaviest, and is determined retroactively. Weeronline estimated the strength of the Zierikzee tornado at a maximum of F2, with a speed of between 179 and 218 kilometers per hour. The storm in Zierikzee can also be called a waterspout, because it originated at sea.
According to Weeronline, the Netherlands records between one and three tornadoes every year. A few particularly heavy tornados passed the Netherlands in June 1967. Seven people were killed and dozens injured.
On August 17, 1992 a tornado swept across Ameland. One person died and five people were injured at a campsite near the town of Nes. More recently, Amsterdam witnessed a tornado on August 9, 2019. The weak tornado also crossed the IJ river, and did not cause extensive damage.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times