Gales leave trail of damage across Austria

Hurricane-force winds affected some regions of Austria overnight, leaving a trail of damage behind them, but thankfully no recorded injuries.

Gales leave trail of damage across Austria
Photo: Volunteer Fire Department of Wiener Neustadt

Heavy squalls were recorded in Upper and Lower Austria, in Vienna, Burgenland and mountainous regions.

In Wiener Neustadt, winds reached hurricane force, with gusts of more than 130 km/h, causing fallen trees and damage to roofs, according to the Wiener Neustadt Volunteer Fire Department.

At least one of the trees brought down power lines, cutting off energy to more than 75 homes.

This tree disrupted power to more than 75 homes.  Photo: Volunteer Fire Department of Wiener Neustadt

The capital city Vienna saw wind speeds of 126 km/h, including 101 km/h in the central city.
Operations at Vienna's Schwechat international airport were affected by the high winds, with reports in the Kronen Zeitung newspaper of at least one plane that had to abort its landing, and try again.
Another plane which arrived shortly before 6pm was unable to dock with the airbridge due to dangerous wind speeds. Passengers had to wait on board for an hour before they could disembark, while the plane was shaken by turbulence.

According to the UBIMET weather service, the stormy winds are expected to continue overnight on Monday, with expectations of gusts in some areas exceeding 100 km/h.

“From the Vienna area up into the Neunkirchen region, gale-force winds were recorded.  The highest readings were in Wiener Neustadt with 130 km/h and Vienna/Unterlaa with 126 km/h”, said UBIMET meteorologist Josef Lukas.

“The strong winds will continue into the day, with gusts between 70 and 80 km/h,” he added.

A plane was damaged when flipped over by strong winds at a regional airport.  Photo: Volunteer Fire Department of Wiener Neustadt

But the storm is not over yet.

“On Monday night, the winds will die down.  They will increase again on Tuesday morning, specifically in Vienna and parts of Lower Austria again with heavy squalls of up to 100 km/h expected.  In the southern Vienna Basin there is even a possibility of hurricane strength winds,” warned the meteorologist.

The weather is only expected to settle again by Wednesday.

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How to avoid getting heat exhaustion in Austria’s scorching weather

As Austria swelters in increasingly hot temperatures, it's important to keep an eye out for heat exhaustion and look after those, such as children and the elderly, who may be more susceptible to heat-related problems.

How to avoid getting heat exhaustion in Austria's scorching weather

Temperatures rose to highs of 37C in some parts of Austria on Friday. And although we’re going some respite from the heatwave with cooler temperatures forecast for the coming week, the trend for warmer summers is clearly on the up.

According to data from Austrian meteorology institute ZAMG, the number of days with temperatures of at least 30C has risen dramatically over the last few decades.

From 1961 to 1990, there were between three and 12 hot days per year in the Austrian provincial capitals, with a maximum of 20 hot days; and from 1991 to 2020, there were between nine and 23 hot days.

And, this year, July’s heatwave has led to an increase in excess deaths.

Deaths rose in the third week of July – which saw very high temperatures – after falling following April’s Omicron wave, according to Statistics Austria.

Over those seven days, 1,827 people died in Austria – 275 more than in the previous week and 24 percent more than the average of that period from 2015 – 2019 (ie pre-Covid), Statistics Austria General Director Tobias Thomas said.

So what we can do to prevent becoming unwell from the heat?

Older people, children and those with long-term health conditions (such as heart problems) can be particularly susceptible to health issues related to hot and humid weather, such as heat exhaustion, dehydration and heatstroke because it can be harder for their bodies to stay cool.  

It’s therefore a good idea to check in on relatives, friends and neighbours when temperatures are spiralling, if you can.

The typical symptoms of heat exhaustion to look out for include excessive sweating and clammy skin, dizziness and confusion, drowsiness, nausea, a rapid heart beat and/or breathing, headache, muscle cramps, increased thirst and a temperature of 38C or higher. 

Children may also become floppy and sleepy.

It’s really important to cool someone down quickly if they’re showing these symptoms to avoid them developing heatstroke, which can be very serious if it’s not dealt with quickly.

So how can you do that?

Move them somewhere cool, ask them to lie down with their feet slightly raised, get them to drink lots of water and cool their skin with water and/or fans.

To stop things getting to this stage and to avoid becoming dehydrated, health experts recommend drinking plenty of cold drinks; taking cool showers (or baths); keeping blinds/curtains closed at home during the hottest parts of the day and only ventilating rooms when the air temperature is cool; using fans to move air around; wearing pale, loose clothes; sprinkling water over skin and clothes; staying out of the sun at its hottest time (11am – 3pm); not drinking too much alcohol or overdoing the exercise.  

Don’t forget: Austria has a ‘heat’ hotline people can call for personal advice on how to best protect themselves from the heat under the free hotline 050 555 555. In addition, if you or someone you know shows any signs of heat stroke or other health problems, call the country’s health number on 1450.