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Old 17.12.2011, 11:48
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Thunderstorm 'Joachim' - how did you fare?

So thunderstorm 'Joachim' has come and gone, and I was surprisingly unlucky. Our whole neighbourhood looks like a war zone, our streets covered in tree branches. All of my garden furniture got tossed around like toys and we ended up with some broken glass. Part of our roof came off (so much for Swiss quality), as did our neighbour's. And for three nights I wasn't able to sleep properly as I listened to our shutters banging against the window.

My boss reported nearly being impaled by a flying Christmas tree.

Most terrifying, though, was walking to work past a construction site where they're working on a 15-storey building. A big gust of wind came along and the next thing I knew, 2x2m sheets of plywood were raining down from 30m up. There was this terrible slow-motion effect -- their large surface area meant that they didn't fall straight down, but drifted back and forth on the air currents before finally coming down -- so we had to keep running back and forth to avoid them. They managed not to hit any people, but the nearby cars didn't make out so well.

I was really surprised by all the damage from this storm. I've lived through plenty of hurricanes in my life and what I saw yesterday was pretty close to the same experience.

How about you? Did you make it through unscathed?
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Old 17.12.2011, 12:05
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Re: Thunderstorm 'Joachim' - how did you fare?

I'm trying to figure out how a thunderstorm / storm front gets a name. Is this new? or something that's common in Europe?

For me it wasn't anything special. We have storms like this in the US all the time. What was unusual about it was that on Thursday it was thundering and lightening and the sky was behaving like it was Springtime... but in December.

So when everyone was batoning down the hatches and panicking about this major storm coming I didn't really understand all of the fuss. Reading your account it sounds really awful... almost tornadic.

I wasn't too thrilled with the way information was made available. I was only hearing bits and pieces. I picked up that there was a storm warning and it had a name "Joachim" but it didn't make any sense to me. "Hurricanes in Europe in December???"
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Old 17.12.2011, 12:16
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Re: Thunderstorm 'Joachim' - how did you fare?

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I'm trying to figure out how a thunderstorm / storm front gets a name. Is this new? or something that's common in Europe?
'Naming storms Europe' gave me this.

Atlantic / Tropical storms
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Old 17.12.2011, 12:28
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Re: Thunderstorm 'Joachim' - how did you fare?

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I'm trying to figure out how a thunderstorm / storm front gets a name. Is this new? or something that's common in Europe?

For me it wasn't anything special. We have storms like this in the US all the time. What was unusual about it was that on Thursday it was thundering and lightening and the sky was behaving like it was Springtime... but in December.

So when everyone was batoning down the hatches and panicking about this major storm coming I didn't really understand all of the fuss. Reading your account it sounds really awful... almost tornadic.

I wasn't too thrilled with the way information was made available. I was only hearing bits and pieces. I picked up that there was a storm warning and it had a name "Joachim" but it didn't make any sense to me. "Hurricanes in Europe in December???"

Well... one of the things I noticed before moving here came about because my m-i-l was always trying to watch Florida weather whenever hubby-to-be was visiting me. So, we came to notice that strong weather happenings in the US, if they last long enough to get picked up by the Gulf Stream coming up the east coast, often get spun up into severe weather for western Europe due to the temperature of the current vs air situation.

So, a few days ago / a week ago, there was probably some nor'easter coming off New England that got dragged across to hit England (seems to me I remember Evilshell remarking on bad weather) which then gets dumped our way. In any case, they do have similar behavior to tropical storms that we're used to seeing coming at us off the African coast and across the equatorial Atlantic, except these are cooold (sea warmer than air, but hey, it's the North Sea so still brrrr cold).

Here is some Wiki info on European Windstorms.



As for how we fared here - we did alright aside from the spooked cat waking me up wickedly early in the morning because she wanted company. Poor thing, she "loves" the terrace net because it means she can go out some, but she hates the noises the wind makes whipping through it.
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Old 17.12.2011, 12:29
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Re: Thunderstorm 'Joachim' - how did you fare?

I guess we were a lot more lucky in Western Switzerland. I noticed heavy rains and it was quite windy, but nothing like what you described. Nothing out of ordinary at least.
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Old 17.12.2011, 13:48
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Re: Thunderstorm 'Joachim' - how did you fare?

We were relatively lucky in Adliswil. Rain and some really strong gusts. I was waiting under the shelter of the bus stop when a strong gust blew the restaurant sign board across the pavement and into the back of the bus, and then another big gust knocked this poor lady flying off her feet. It was awful she was spread eagled on her front right in the middle of the road.....and everyone just sat there under the cover of the shelter, from the wind and rain. I couldn't believe it. I ran out to help her up, but no one else moved, I was really quite shocked.
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Old 17.12.2011, 14:00
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Re: Thunderstorm 'Joachim' - how did you fare?

My husband flew in from Zurich last evening and said that the take-off was particularly hairy. Several flights out of Zurich were either cancelled or subject to long delay.
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Old 17.12.2011, 14:07
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Re: Thunderstorm 'Joachim' - how did you fare?

I was on the last flight into Zurich before they closed it for 40 minutes or so......landing was a bit bumpy and the firetrucks waiting by the runway with lights flashing waiting to go party reassured but not much!

Then needed to sit on the plane for an hour as "ground operations were suspended because of the storm"! I never heard of that before
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Old 17.12.2011, 14:13
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Re: Thunderstorm 'Joachim' - how did you fare?

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Then needed to sit on the plane for an hour as "ground operations were suspended because of the storm"! I never heard of that before
Translates as "Let's sit in the warm and finish this cup of tea while we wait and see if the rain goes off."
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Old 17.12.2011, 15:15
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Re: Thunderstorm 'Joachim' - how did you fare?

It was pretty scary here - very strong winds - they were reporting on the news gusts up to 110kph. There were a lot of trees down on the forest edge and bins, branches, various bits of garden stuff being blown around. Some friends of ours were cut off by fallen trees and had tiles off the roof. Near us and there was a quite nasty looking accident on the highway exit - I've no idea if it was down to weather - it looked like someone had run the lights and hit a car turning but there was a van involved so I guess a gust might have caught it.

Did notice the fire brigade were out and about a lot. I know this as the fire station is right opposite my sons school and I threw Swiss-ness to the wind and dropped and picked him up by car as it was so awful out there - I mean 110kph - that's got to be enough to blow a small child over surely?

I was frankly amazed that school was open in the afternoon because it was so dangerous out there - as evidenced by the literally hundreds of other Swiss parents who picked their kids up by car yesterday at lunchtime.

Of course my sons teacher couldn't give a shit and still took the kids out swimming in the afternoon - walking 20 mins in the pouring rain and gale force winds down to the other school, swim for 20 mins and then walk back in same gale force wind and torrential rain. When the radio was saying not to go out except for essential journeys. Thinking of complaining to school about that to be honest - I think it was careless and unnecessary - my son was absolutely drenched to the skin before he even got to the pool and then had to put his wet clothes on afterwards.
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Old 17.12.2011, 15:19
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Re: Thunderstorm 'Joachim' - how did you fare?

There was one prediction that Joachim would be 80 - 90 % the strength of Lothar. Around here it was no where near that violent, even though we did have some good gusts. No apparent damage here.
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Old 17.12.2011, 15:24
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Re: Thunderstorm 'Joachim' - how did you fare?

From a heavy rain storm yesterday evening in Zurich to snow on the Uetliberg this morning. The omens are not good.
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Old 17.12.2011, 15:26
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Re: Thunderstorm 'Joachim' - how did you fare?

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I guess we were a lot more lucky in Western Switzerland. I noticed heavy rains and it was quite windy, but nothing like what you described. Nothing out of ordinary at least.
Well, it appears I was wrong. I've just read the newspaper Le Matin, and it seems a fisherman almost drowned on the Leman lake near Vevey. And there was a picture of the waves n Ouchy, and it was pretty impressive. Looks like a few trees were blown off by the wind too.
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Old 17.12.2011, 15:27
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Re: Thunderstorm 'Joachim' - how did you fare?

Well, it wasn't pleasant at our end, wall of water, ugly winds..No point of having an umbrella, really, one got drenched no matter what. But no tree stuff flying, no real big storm feeling. Just made the wind super icy.

Wattsli1, sorry about your kiddo. Some people.
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Old 17.12.2011, 15:32
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Re: Thunderstorm 'Joachim' - how did you fare?

Yesterday late morning in Basel the fire brigade had to come to remove bits of the "snow catcher" or whatever it's called from the roof of the opposite building. It had ripped apart, some of it fell to the ground, and th rest was swinging wildly around smashing against the side of the building.

And, horror of horrors, my string of Ikea christmas lights on my balcony had blown off the wall back inton the balcony.
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Old 17.12.2011, 15:43
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Re: Thunderstorm 'Joachim' - how did you fare?

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My string of Ikea christmas lights on my balcony had blown off the wall back into the balcony.
Wow.....that sure puts things in perspective. My thoughts are with you at this difficult time.
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Old 17.12.2011, 15:52
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Re: Thunderstorm 'Joachim' - how did you fare?

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Of course my sons teacher couldn't give a shit and still took the kids out swimming in the afternoon - walking 20 mins in the pouring rain and gale force winds down to the other school, swim for 20 mins and then walk back in same gale force wind and torrential rain. When the radio was saying not to go out except for essential journeys. Thinking of complaining to school about that to be honest - I think it was careless and unnecessary - my son was absolutely drenched to the skin before he even got to the pool and then had to put his wet clothes on afterwards.
Our school did not allow any children out unless they were collected by a parent. For those children whose parents were obviously not coming, a couple of teachers walked them home .. I saw a crocodile of about 5 children and one teacher walking down the centre of the main street to avoid the falling roof tiles.

I was also asked to ferry various children up and down the hill to mittagstisch so that no one was walking outside. I was surprised to be rung up, thinking that it ran very contrary to the usual laissez-faire attitude to safety, but then I walked out to the car and realised why they were so worried.

Lots of damaged roofs in our village and ripped up trees. But now it is snowing.
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Old 17.12.2011, 16:58
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Re: Thunderstorm 'Joachim' - how did you fare?

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I was on the last flight into Zurich before they closed it for 40 minutes or so......landing was a bit bumpy and the firetrucks waiting by the runway with lights flashing waiting to go party reassured but not much!

Then needed to sit on the plane for an hour as "ground operations were suspended because of the storm"! I never heard of that before
The winds were gusting around 30 knots at ZRH until around 6pm Friday, then it went kind of crazy with some 60 to 70 knot gusts. The issue wasn't if the flights could fly, but that there were a high proportion of overshoots (aborted landings) which kept ATC most of the day and messed up the inbound slots. ZRH is a bit awkward when you overshoot from the north as it affects the take off régime for departures from runway 16. The rapid temperature drop during the evening also required the de-icing crew to man their stations, which all meant delays. But time well spent if you want your airplane free of ice.
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Old 17.12.2011, 17:51
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Re: Thunderstorm 'Joachim' - how did you fare?

All ok in Geneva. The wind lasted half a day only. We had some snow yesterday though
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Old 17.12.2011, 18:58
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Re: Thunderstorm 'Joachim' - how did you fare?

We did ok, I was lucky in that I didn't have to go outside.
We have a bird table outside our (second floor) window which almost took off and scared the poor little birdies (how do they fly in such strong winds?), and the glass in a door downstairs smashed, but thankfully there were no casualties.
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