DISCUSSION: Following the impressive heatwave from earlier this week, thunderstorms have formed along a boundary draped across Germany which has led to some very nasty thunderstorms. Photos and videos posted to Facebook captured beautiful wall clouds, hailstones, and very heavy rainfall across the country. One video even shows a downburst, which is a strong downdraft typically associated with strong thunderstorms and heavy rainfall. According to Lightning Maps, and as of this writing (around 4:30 PM EST), nearly 6,000 lightning strikes were detected. These storms are associated with a low pressure system passing by to the north along a cold front cutting through the country. Behind the front, much cooler and drier air will replace the record setting heat.
Now for a little meteorological lesson. A downburst occurs when heavy rain inside a thunderstorm significantly cools the air and forces it to the sink to the surface. When the downdraft (current of air that falls to the surface) reaches the ground it spreads out in all directions and causes what is known as straight-line winds. These winds can be very powerful and damaging to everything in their path. The damage seen from straight-line winds can be equivalent to a tornado, however in straight-line winds the direction is uniform, hence the name straight-line, whereas in a tornado one can tell where the center of the cyclone was due to the rotation of the damage surrounding it.
No damage, injuries, or fatalities have been reported so far from Germany following these thunderstorms. High pressure will move into the area tomorrow and bring with it dry and sunny conditions that will last into the weekend when a weak storm system looks to impact the country on Sunday, according to local meteorologists. To learn more about other high-impact weather events from across Europe, be sure to click here!