Journal cover Journal topic
Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 14, 2867-2882, 2014
http://www.nat-hazards-earth-syst-sci.net/14/2867/2014/
doi:10.5194/nhess-14-2867-2014
© Author(s) 2014. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
04 Nov 2014
A catalog of high-impact windstorms in Switzerland since 1859
P. Stucki1, S. Brönnimann1, O. Martius2,1, C. Welker1, M. Imhof3, N. von Wattenwyl1, and N. Philipp1 1Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research and Institute of Geography, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
2Mobiliar Lab for Natural Risks, Bern, Switzerland
3Interkantonaler Rückversicherungsverband, Bern, Switzerland
Abstract. In recent decades, extremely hazardous windstorms have caused enormous losses to buildings, infrastructure and forests in Switzerland. This has increased societal and scientific interest in the intensity and frequency of historical high-impact storms. However, high-resolution wind data and damage statistics mostly span recent decades only.

For this study, we collected quantitative (e.g., volumes of windfall timber, losses relating to buildings) and descriptive (e.g., forestry or insurance reports) information on the impact of historical windstorms. To define windstorm severity, normalized and declustered quantitative data were processed by extreme value statistics. Descriptive information was classified using a conceptual guideline. Validation with independent damage information, as well as comparison with wind measurements and a reanalysis, indicates that the most hazardous winter storms are captured, while too few moderate windstorms are detected. Strong storms in the wind measurements and reanalysis are thus added to the catalog.

The final catalog encompasses approximately 240 high-impact windstorms in Switzerland since 1859. It features three robust severity classes and contains eight extreme windstorms. Evidence of high winter storm activity in the early and late 20th century compared to the mid-20th century in both damage and wind data indicates a co-variability of hazard and related damage on decadal timescales.


Citation: Stucki, P., Brönnimann, S., Martius, O., Welker, C., Imhof, M., von Wattenwyl, N., and Philipp, N.: A catalog of high-impact windstorms in Switzerland since 1859, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 14, 2867-2882, doi:10.5194/nhess-14-2867-2014, 2014.
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Short summary
This catalog contains 240 (8 extreme) high-impact windstorms in Switzerland since 1859 in 3 severity classes. Validation with independent wind and damage data reveals that the most hazardous winter storms are captured, while too few moderate windstorms may be detected. We find evidence of high winter storm activity in the early and late 20th century compared to the mid-20th century in both damage and wind data. This indicates a covariability of hazard and related damages on decadal timescales.
This catalog contains 240 (8 extreme) high-impact windstorms in Switzerland since 1859 in 3...
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