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Thunderstorms leave Milan in ruins, tornado marks the start of unprecedented weather conditions

Peering outside, I witnessed a terrifying scene. The outlines of trees and houses were barely discernible amid the dense rain and wind, creating a fog-like effect. Additionally, the cacophony of hail striking the roof was deafening. Overwhelmed by fear and uncertainty, I dreaded shattering windows as I heard the sound of cracks. Some hailstones looked incredibly large, perhaps the size of my hand.

  • 8 months ago
  • August 17, 2023
4 min read
A park near Brugherio in Italy reveals the affects of a recent tornado and thunderstorms due to unprecedented weather conditions. A park near Brugherio in Italy reveals the affects of a recent tornado and thunderstorms due to unprecedented weather conditions. | Photo courtesy by Katya Diaz
Interview subject
Katya Diaz is a dedicated professional with a Master’s degree in Design and Engineering from Politecnico di Milano. Currently, she contributes her expertise and passion as an integral part of the innovative team at Haier Europe, situated in Brugherio, near Milan. With a solid foundation in design and a commitment to excellence, Katya is actively shaping the future in her field.
Background context
Europe experienced a bout of extreme weather this summer. Later in July, Milan encountered severe winds akin to those found in major hurricanes, accompanied by hail reaching a considerable size. This turbulent weather pattern emerged due to a potent cold front colliding with a record-hot air mass. The collision unleashed pent-up energy within the atmosphere, resulting in notable local damage from the impactful storms during the last week of July. To this date, Milan continues to recover and many areas remain closed.

MILAN, Italy —A surreal scene unfolded beyond my office window. The skies grew dark, casting an eerie and unfamiliar ambiance that made it look like nighttime. The unexpected darkness caught me off guard. Before I could fully comprehend the situation, a torrential downpour and forceful wind startled me.

For the next hour, the rain and wind continued relentlessly, filling me with a sense of fear. Just as abruptly as it had begun, the tempestuous weather subsided a little after 11:00 a.m. By Noon, the atmosphere reverted to normal as though nothing extraordinary occurred.

While I couldn’t observe the tornado directly, colleagues promptly informed of the cause behind the peculiar weather shift that Friday morning. My phone buzzed incessantly with calls from concerned friends and family seeking reassurance of my safety. Thankfully, my office remained a safe distance from the tornado’s path, though the intensity of the rain and wind felt palpable.

Later that day, as I journeyed home, I observed scattered tree branches on the streets. The damage seemed less severe than I expected. I believed that was the end of the ordeal. However, little did I anticipate the situation would worsen a few days later.

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After record-setting heat, devastating thunderstorms strike Milan

The scorching temperatures of the previous week soared to 35 degrees Celsius (95 Fahrenheit), amplifying the tornado’s unexpected appearance. I went about my usual routine, but thunderstorms disrupted the city four days later.

On July 25, 2023, the sound of powerful gusts of wind roused me from sleep. Around 4:00 a.m., I approached the window and saw relentless rain and unceasing hail entering my home. Hastily, I closed the windows to shield myself against the storm.

Peering outside, I witnessed a terrifying scene. The outlines of trees and houses were barely discernible amid the dense rain and wind, creating a fog-like effect. Additionally, the cacophony of hail striking the roof was deafening. Overwhelmed by fear and uncertainty, I dreaded shattering windows as I heard the sound of cracks. Some hailstones looked incredibly large, perhaps the size of my hand.

After some time, I returned to sleep, only to awaken a few hours later. As I stepped outside onto the streets, a jarring sight greeted me. Trees blocked the roads, branches littered the ground, and people congested the sidewalks. My routine commute, a mere five-minute walk to the metro followed by a 10-minute bus ride turned into an hour or more. Public transportation came to a halt; the metro remained immobile, and buses faced outrageous delays. Amidst the confusion and worry, street-goers tried to navigate the disrupted transit system, waiting in vain for the resumption of metro and bus services.

Buildings shattered by heavy hail; residents left in shock

Despite the odds, I persevered and reached my office in Brugherio. Along the way, the hail storm’s havoc on nearby buildings and the sight of numerous damaged vehicles marked my journey. Fields and parks lay in ruins, a chaotic scene with fallen trees crushing cars and spreading disorder.

Upon arrival at my office, I met an astonishing scene. The entire property bore the aftermath of the storm: fallen trees and branches littered the premises, and the security fence was ravaged. The building’s ceiling had sustained severe damage, nearly torn apart. It hailed so hard, it shattered several windows, leaving a mess behind. Red and yellow caution tape adorned various areas of the property and building, marking the extent of the harm inflicted by the thunderstorms.

A security fence was shattered by fallen trees at Haier Europe | Photo courtesy of Katya Diaz

My superiors instructed everyone at the premises to relocate to a showroom, deeming it the safest option. Our team reconvened there, resulting in the closure of my office for the entire following week. The situation was extraordinary; merely four days prior, a tornado had unsettled us, yet the ferocious thunderstorms that followed proved even more intense. In response, I sought refuge within my home for the following days.

Over the past weekend, I tried to visit a park but many remain closed. Outdoor spaces remain under repair, and some sidewalks are inaccessible. Fortunately, almost three weeks have passed without the return of storms. I consider myself fortunate; my home emerged relatively unscathed, a stark contrast to the unfortunate experiences of many in the area.

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