Tornadoes possible in Austria as weather chaos continues

Austria was hit by another night of severe storms last night with latest forecasts suggesting that some areas could be hit by tornado winds later today.

Tornadoes possible in Austria as weather chaos continues
Photo: Feuerwehr Amstetten

On Tuesday evening three people were rescued at the last minute from a sinking car after they drove it into a flooded road in the district of Amstetten in Lower Austria.

“The water was already up to the doors, the passengers could not open them,” Amstetten fire service spokesperson Philipp Gutlederer told the ORF.

Shortly after the people were rescued, the roof of the car was nearly completely underwater, according to the fire service.

Although the east will see the sunniest weather in the country, forecaster ‘Aktuelle Wetterwarnungen für Österreich’ warned that further heavy storms threaten the south and south-east of the country later today, including the possibility of tornado-like conditions.

Passengers at Vienna International Airport were left stranded after planes were severely delayed due to the thunder and lightning storm the hit the city on Tuesday evening.

Flights had to be re-directed to nearby Bratislava airport, although an airport spokesperson could not confirm to the ORF exactly how many flights were affected.

Some passengers complained online of a lack of timely information from the airport or airlines, who were forced for safety reasons to stop planes from landing.

“We took these measures for safety reasons due to the lightning, thunder and strong winds,” an airport spokesperson told the ORF.

In Styria, where around 1000 fire service personnel were again deployed overnight, the turbulent weather is thought to have caused €3.3 million worth of damage.

Regions of the state were hit by hailstorms, including in the municipality of Pischelsdorf where hailstones the size of golfballs covered the ground. Residents in Klagenfurt also reported hailstones as big as 5-6 cm on Tuesday morning.

Much of western Austria is expected to be hit by a cold front over the next few days, with between 30 and 60 litres of rain per square metre possible on Thursday in western and nothern regions.

The Austrian weather service ZAMG said yesterday, however, that they expect the summer conditions to return to much of the country by Sunday.

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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.