[There was a video here]
Two videos posted to Facebook this afternoon appear to show an Italian’s intense run-in with a large tornado that tore through the northeastern town of Mira, a community near the coast of the Adriatic Sea just a couple of miles west of Venice. The tornado tore apart buildings and pelted the car with debris as one occupant inside dutifully recorded the dangerous encounter.
The videos, which were filmed in portrait mode (UGH) and posted to the social media site by Carlotta Menegazzo (1, 2), depict a large, cone tornado as it destroyed homes, businesses, and mowed down trees near the town of 40,000. A large amount of debris is seen swirling through the air and smacking into the ground and the car, including a gas station that’s heavily damaged just a few feet in front of the vehicle.
As of the publication of this post, no news organizations have picked up stories of damage or casualties as a result of this severe weather outbreak, but weather models and satellite imagery lend authenticity to the video as there were strong to severe thunderstorms in the area at the time. The infrared satellite image above from 12:00 PM EDT, or 6:00 PM in Venice, shows a strong storm over the region around the time Menegazzo says in a Facebook comment that she encountered the tornado.
Even though it gives us great visuals, Menegazzo and those in the vehicle with her were entirely too close to that tornado. The safest distance between you and a tornado is as far away as humanly possible—even weak tornadoes can toss cars around like toys, and the trauma that cars sustain in twisters doesn’t usually bode well for the occupants inside.
Tornadoes are not uncommon in Europe, especially in areas like northern Italy where the right combination of instability and wind shear can come together to trigger violent thunderstorms like ones we would see here in the United States. The above map shows all of the areas of the world where tornadoes commonly occur—in addition to the United States and parts of Mexico and Canada, other hotbeds of tornadic activity include Bangladesh (which is basically the Oklahoma of Asia when it comes to severe storms), South Africa, Australia, and portions of central and eastern Europe.
[Videos: Carlotta Menegazzo, combined into one video by the author | Images: Weather Underground, NCDC | Edited the headline after publication for clarity.]