A reconstruction of 1 August 1674 thunderstorms over the Low Countries
- Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, De Bilt, the Netherlands
Abstract. On 1 August 1674 an active cold front moved over the Low Countries. The accompanying thunderstorms along the squall line were abnormally active, leading to large-scale damage in Europe, from northern France to the northern parts of Holland where damages were particularly severe. Using reported and pictured observations of damages and modern meteorological concepts, the reconstruction of the storm points to an exceptionally severe squall line. The orientation and the velocity of the squall line are reconstructed and shows a developed bow-echo structure. An estimate of the strength of the strongest wind gusts is ≈ 55–90 m s−1 and is based on an assessment of the damages caused by this event. A rough estimate of the return time of this event, based on observed hail size, is between 1000 and 10 000 years. This storm is compared to a more recent storm which was similar in dynamics but much less devastating. Special attention is given to the city of Utrecht which was hit hardest, and where the impact of this storm is still recognizable in the cityscape.