The Chaam and Tricht Tornadoes, June 25 1967

The Netherlands gets its fair share of tornadoes and estimates suggest that tornadoes occur here on average 20-25 times per year and are most likely between March and October. The KNMI (Dutch national meteorological service) estimate that on average a few times per year tornadoes strong enough to cause some damage occur over the Netherlands and that around ten waterspouts occur over Dutch coastal waters per year, most likely during the late summer and autumn.

Most of the tornadoes that affect the Netherlands are weak and in fact tornadoes causing damage registering F3 or more on the Fujita Scale (or T5-6 on the T Scale, see the TORRO website for more details) hardly ever occur in the Netherlands. However, severe tornadoes do occasionally occur and two of the worst tornadoes to ever affect the Netherlands occurred on June 25th 1967.

An active front fuelled by the convergence of three air masses - cool air from Britain, warm, humid air from France and warm, dry air from the eastern Netherlands - over the Netherlands caused a severe storm to develop. This storm produced damaging squalls, severe hail (including hailstones the size of peas, marbles and eggs in some places) and three tornados. The night before the very same front had produced two tornadoes over parts of north-eastern France the previous evening killing 8 people and injuring 80. These tornadoes were two of most violent ever in this part of France.

During the 25th the first tornado touched-down close to the Dutch border in northern Belgium where more than half of the 907 homes in Oostmalle were damaged or destroyed. The second tornado touched-down just over the Dutch border roughly halfway between the towns of Breda and Tilburg. In this area the tornado tracked for 11 km and whilst there were very few buildings along the tornado track many trees were blown down and two people at a campsite in Chaam were killed. A third tornado then touched-down, this time for 15 km, a little further north in the central Netherlands where this tornado tracked from Nieuwaal, near Zaltbommel to Tricht, near Geldermalsen. This time there were both more witnesses and more damage, most notably at a housing estate in Tricht where around 100 houses were damaged or destroyed and five people were killed.

The picture to the left, meanwhile, is of the third tornado and was taken about 3km south-west of Tricht. If you look really closely at the middle of the bottom of the pictue you can see a windmill, which gives an unmistakably Dutch ring to the photograph. This photo, and an interesting corresponding piece written by a chap named Wessels, was orginally published in a Dutch weather and astronomy publication called Hemel en Dampkring in 1968. This article, and the associated photographs, is available on-line here at the KNMI's web site. You can find out more about tornadoes in the Netherlands at the Dutch Storm Chasing Team's website, from the VWK (Dutch weather amateurs), the KNMI and Meteonet.

GEURTS, H. (2000): Het weer nader verklaard. Elmar, p.193.
GEURTS, H. and KUIPER, J. (1997): Weergaloos Nederland. Kosmos-Z&K, p.143.
KROLL, E. (1991): Altijd weer. BZZToH, p.144.
MEADEN, G. T. (1985): Tornadoes in Britain, TORRO, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire. (Prepared for H.M. Nuclear Installations Inspectorate), p.131.
OTTEN, H., KUIPER, J. and VAN DER SPEK, T. (2000): Weer een eeuw. Tirion, p.239.
REYNOLDS, D. J. (1999): European tornado climatology, 1960-1989. Journal of Meteorology, 24, 376-403.
WESSELS, H. R. A. (1968): De zware windhozen van 25 Juni 1967, Hemel en Dampkring, 66, 155-178.

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Dan Suri, 27 June 2001