It is often assumed that tornadoes do not occur in Europe and that they are a weather phenomena specific to the United States. But this is far from true. Not only do tornadoes strike in Europe – they do millions of pounds worth of damage, cause serious injuries and even lead to fatalities. Despite these facts they are still perceived as a curiosity and as a result their threat is underestimated.
Tornadoes have not always been overlooked in Europe and many natural philosophers and scientists have proposed theories about their formation and impact. Theories were proposed by Greek philosophers such as Aristotle in Meteorologica and Roman philosophers such as Seneca in Naturales Quaestiones. The systematic study of European tornadoes began in the 17th-century. Writing in 1694, the Italian astronomer and mathematician Geminiano Montanari analysed a tornado that occurred in the Veneto region of Italy in July 1686.
In fact, before the end of the World War II, European scientists and meteorologists led the research into tornadoes while in the United States the word “tornado” was banned by the Weather Bureau because the government was afraid of causing panic. But the situation changed in March 1948 when Air Force Captain Robert C. Miller and Major Ernest J. Fawbush issued the first US tornado forecast and, as a result, the United States began to surpass Europe in the study of twisters.
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