Hurricane Lothar

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Trajectory 04-18 with core pressure
Trajectory 04-18 with core pressure
storm Hurricane ( North Atlantic Trogorkan )
General weather situation West facing
Emergence December 25, 1999
resolution December 27, 1999
Top gust 272 km / h
Lowest air pressure 962 hPa
affected areas France , Southwest Germany , Switzerland , Liechtenstein , Austria

Lothar was a hurricane low that had developed over the Bay of Biscay and on December 26, 1999 moved in a north-easterly direction across Western and Central Europe . The hurricane caused the highest storm damage in recent European history, especially in northern France, Switzerland, southern Germany and Austria.


From France, the storm hit within about two and a half hours of 10:00 to 12:30 in the Black Forest , the Switzerland and Liechtenstein and Austria .

Wind speeds

The strongest gusts were measured in Germany with 272 km / h on the Hohentwiel near Singen and on the Wendelstein with 259 km / h. 212 km / h were measured on the Feldberg in the Black Forest , but the wind measuring device of the weather station failed due to a power failure. In Switzerland, the highest measured value was on the Jungfraujoch with 249 km / h, on Zurich's local mountain Uetliberg 241 km / h. In Austria the maximum speed was measured at 218 km / h on the Feuerkogel , the highest wind speed ever measured in Austria.

In the lowlands, the gust peaks in Switzerland were widespread 140 km / h, in the Zurich Oberland up to 160 km / h, even in valleys. In Brienz exceptional 181 km / h were measured in Vaduz , the capital of h of Liechtenstein, 165 km /. In the German lowlands, the highest value was 151 km / h in Karlsruhe .



About 110 people died as a result of the storm and the clean-up, including 88 in France. This also includes the victims of Storm Martin , which hit southern France the following day.

In Baden-Württemberg, 13 people were killed on storm day, in Switzerland 14 people died. Weeks after the storm, people were still killed during the clean-up work, mostly in private forests, where untrained forest owners and their relatives were mostly killed by tree trunks under tension during the timber recovery work. In Switzerland, 15 people died from such accidents alone, in Austria there were no seriously injured persons at the end of 1999.


The storm caused an estimated insurance loss ( Swiss Re ) of over USD 6 billion , similar to Daria in 1990. It is one of the world's most expensive insurance claims, which only resulted from storms from Hurricane Andrew 1992, Typhoon Mireille 1991, Katrina 2005 and Hurricane Harvey 2017 is exceeded. In Switzerland, in addition to the 600 million francs in forest damage, there were also 600 million francs in building damage. The estimated total damage for all quantifiable damage is said to be around 1.78 billion Swiss francs. In his report “Winter Storms in Europe - History from 1703 to 2012”, Aon Benfield assumes an insured loss in Germany of 1.2 billion euros.


Attalens (Switzerland), the top of the church tower torn down after the hurricane

In the canton of Nidwalden , 20% of all buildings were damaged. The federal highway 8 between Heimsheim and Karlsruhe was blocked by fallen trees for several days. Numerous railway connections throughout German-speaking Switzerland were interrupted by falling trees and cracks in overhead lines. The SBB but stopped the operation according to the circumstances on the unaffected lines upright. In Germany, operations on some routes had to be stopped due to broken contact wires (e.g. on the Gäubahn between Stuttgart and Rottweil ).

Some districts in the Bregenzerwald were without electricity for several days. The Karrenseilbahn was shut down for a month after "Lothar" tore a suspension rope from the support and threw a pull rope over a suspension rope. In the federal state of Salzburg, mainly in the capital and the Flachgau, trees were uprooted, billboards fell over and several trolleybus lines were canceled due to damaged overhead lines. Uprooted trees were also reported from Ausserfern and the Pitztal in Tyrol, where the users of several lifts in the ski areas had to be evacuated by rope rescue. Minor damage, such as covered and damaged roofs, was to be lamented in Lower Austria, Vienna and Upper Austria.

Forest damage

Bästenhardtwald near Mössingen after the storm Lothar: Before that, fir trees were ready to be cut , afterwards 17,000 cubic meters of broken timber

In France and Switzerland, the hurricane caused major forest damage, but also in many parts of southern Germany, especially in the Black Forest , Schönbuch and Rammert .

In Baden-Württemberg there was three times the annual harvest (30 million cubic meters ). In Bavaria , 4.3 million sm3 fell victim to Lothar, in Austria the losses remained low at 0.4 million sm3. Softwood stocks were particularly affected; Hardwood was almost only thrown in the mixed forest. In Switzerland , 10 million trees (around 13 million cubic meters of wood) were knocked down. Many times the annual logging was thrown in many forest districts. The amount of damage to wood alone in Switzerland was 750 million francs. In Austria, where mainly Upper Austria, northern Lower Austria, Salzburg and Vorarlberg were affected, 5% of the annual harvest was assumed at the end of 1999, which corresponds to around 67,000 solid meters of wood. France suffered the main damage with 140 million sm3. A total of around 200 million cubic meters of storm wood was expected across Europe .

Clean-up work, supplying the population and recording damage often began on the day of the storm by the fire brigade , the Black Forest mountain rescue service , the German Red Cross , the technical relief organization and the police . Units of the Bundeswehr , including soldiers from the Franco-German brigade from Donaueschingen , were also called in. In the state forest later helpers came from the less-damaged provinces such. B. Thuringia , used. Special and recovery vehicles and crew were z. Partly ordered from abroad. Even forest companies from Sweden , Finland and Poland processed the storm wood in the spring of 2000. Cross-lying trunks caused road closures for days and considerable disruptions to rail traffic. In addition, numerous roofs were covered in villages and towns. In many places there were power outages due to broken lines and disruptions in the Deutsche Telekom landline network . In contrast to previous storm disasters, the coordination of clean-up operations was facilitated by the use of mobile phones .

Meteorological aspects

Storm of the century?

Storm damage near Baden-Baden

Until Lothar, Daria (1990) was considered to be the hurricane low that caused the highest - insured and uninsured - damage. Before that, the March Orcan 1876 should be comparable for Europe , then the hurricane Kyrill in 2007. In the media Lothar and Kyrill were often referred to as the “ storm of the century”. After three corresponding events within only 17 years, this name should be reconsidered.

Criticism of the prediction

At the time, criticism was made of the German Weather Service . He countered that private weather services, especially in Germany, were often very hasty in their reviews to attract attention. As a consequence, however - also in connection with the increased discussion about global warming and the presumed increase in damaging events - the handling has changed significantly: With the EU-wide storm centers , modern and up-to-date warning services are available today, and warnings are generally available even then Acceptance when events turn out less dangerous than announced.


Monument on the Siedigkopf

At the end of June 2003, the nature conservation center on Ruhestein and the Baiersbronn State Forestry Office set up the “ Lotharpfad ” storm throw experience path near the Schliffkopf , directly on the Black Forest High Road . Along an 800 m long educational and adventure trail on a 10 hectare area, it is possible to observe how the storm thrown area is gradually being repopulated. The “Lothar Path” leads over footbridges, ladders and stairs and offers insights into how natural forces work, how nature deals with such an area and what arises again by itself. The nature conservation center Ruhestein offers guided tours.

As a reminder of the storm, the Lothurm was built in Switzerland and another monument on the Siedigkopf in the middle / northern Black Forest nature park.

See also



  • Nightmare winter storms. Director: Willy Meyer, SWR, Germany, 2009 ( program , ARTE, theme evening March 9, 2010 Xynthia , chronicle of an announced disaster program , dossier )

Web links

Commons : Lothar  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Lothar leaves deep traces on the Baar. Südkurier, August 18, 2017.
  2. a b c d e f g The hurricane "Lothar" caused millions in damages in Austria ., December 28, 1999, accessed on August 24, 2013.
  3. Ludwig Z'graggen, Andreas Hostettler: Strong west storm and very high temperatures (Kyrill) - compared to Vivian and Lothar. MeteoSwiss, January 19, 2007, archived from the original on November 14, 2007 ; Retrieved June 8, 2008 .
  4. Christophe Magdelaine: Tempêtes de décembre 1999 en France: les ouragans Lothar et Martin. MeteoFrance, September 11, 2013, accessed May 21, 2015 .
  5. a b Natural and man-made disasters 2001: Man-made damage of a new dimension. In: sigma 1/2002, Swiss Reinsurance Company, p. 23 ( web document , pdf)
  6. Winter storms in Europe. History from 1703 to 2012. (PDF) Aon Benfield, January 2013, pp. 18–19 , accessed on March 11, 2014 .
  8. ^ The effects of Lothar in Baden-Baden , city guide
  9. a b Damage balance after hurricane "Lothar". Bavarian Forest Administration, March 2008, archived from the original on May 16, 2008 ; Retrieved August 24, 2013 .
  10. Werner Erb (written ed.), Jutta Odenthal-Kahabka (ed.), Wolfgang Püttmann (ed.): Hurricane "Lothar". Coping with storm damage in the forests of Baden-Württemberg. Documentation, analysis, consequences . = Series of publications by the Baden-Württemberg State Forestry Administration, Volume 83. Ed. By the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Food and Rural Areas / Baden-Württemberg State Forestry Administration. Forestry experimental and research institute Baden-Württemberg, Freiburg im Breisgau 2004
  11. Winfried Bücking (Red.): Storm Throw Bann forests according to "Lothar". Basic forest recordings and aerial photo analyzes . = Forest Protected Areas Baden-Württemberg Volume 9. Forestry Experimental and Research Institute Baden-Württemberg, Forest Ecology Department, Freiburg im Breisgau 2006
  12. a b c HolzKurier, cit. According to Sturm Lothar , Bavarian Forest Administration, as of November 10, 2000
  13. ^ Franz Schmithüsen: wood industry policy. Chapter 16: Storm Lothar and how to deal with it. Lecture notes, Chair of Environmental Policy and Environmental Economics, ETH Zurich ( web document  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this note. , Pdf, accessed on 5. March 2008)@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  14. ^ Federal Council aid package for Lothar damage ( Memento from February 5, 2012 in the Internet Archive ). Federal Department for the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communication, Bern, February 16, 2000, at
  15. Hurricane "Lothar" also in Austria ,, December 30, 1999, accessed on August 24, 2013
  16. Storm Documentation Germany ( Memento from December 12, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 10.8 MB) ,, 2005, accessed on August 24, 2013
  17. , severe weather center of the EU
  18. Lotharpfad ( memento of July 29, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) ,, accessed on August 24, 2013
  19. Information from the state forest administration of Baden-Württemberg about the Lothar path with pictures