Winter Storm 'Lothar' over Europe as seen in Meteosat Images

Damage from Winter Storm 'Lothar'

Around Christmas 1999 Central Europe was struck by two storms that caused severe damage in France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy. The satellite image below shows the first of the two storms, called Lothar, which rapidly crossed France and Germany on 26 December.  It started off as a frontal wave over the Western Atlantic just one day before, crossing the Atlantic at a speed of more than 120 km/h. The upper level flow for this period was characterised by a strong zonal flow right across the Atlantic with wind speeds of more than 100 knots at the 500 hPa level. The surface situation at 12.00 UTC showed a typical constellation of high pressure with the centre near Madeira and low pressure in the Iceland area.

After hitting France early in the morning, and in particular the Paris area, the storm centre crossed the Frankfurt area at 11-12 hours on Sunday morning, 26 December.  The occluded spiral is well visible in the above picture. The pressure in its centre reached 960 hPa at around 7 a.m. on the same day and wind gusts reached 81 knots and 93 knots in Karlsruhe and Paris-Orly, respectively. The intensity of the winds over Europe can also be seen from the satellite image by the blocking of the clouds on the Northern slopes of the French Giura and the Alps as well as the orographic wave clouds on the lee side of Corsica and Sardegna. The rather small size of the depression, as depicted by the visible image, is also a typical sign of its rapid movement versus east. Only 12 hours later it reached Eastern Poland where it weakened considerably and finally slowed down.

This sequence of 7 visible channel images was taken on 26 December 1999 over Europe and North Africa. One can see a very compact cloud spiral over central Europe which is the cloud pattern associated with the storm of the century.

This sequence of seven visible images was observed on 26 December 1999 between 8:30 and 12:00 UTC.

Winter Storm 'Lothar' on 26 December 1999 at 12.00 UTC
Animation (976 KB)

Infrared Image 'Lothar' at 08.00 UTC
Full Resolution (169 KB)

Animation (1.6 MB)

Surface Chart of 'Lothar' on 26 December 1999
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Radar Chart of 'Lothar' on 26 December 1999

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