Pentecost storm near Gruiten by Aaron Sperschneider

The devastating Pentecost storm that swept over North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany in 2014. The storm was described as one of the most violent in decades by the German weather service.

Lightning flashes every second through the huge thunderstorm system. One of these lightning bolts struck just outside the frame. However, the red glow is visible from afar. The precipitation area seems to literally glow in red. If you look closely, you can see a cloud of dust in the background above the left field, which is driven by the cold gusts of the thunderstorm system.

There was a particularly intense storm system on Pentecost Monday in 2014 that many will surely still remember vividly. It is often incorrectly referred to as low pressure area “Ela”. In fact, Ela was a relatively weak depression west of Ireland. 

However, the low had an impact on Central Europe, that would lead to the perfect conditions for severe thunderstorms over the area. In the afternoon, a line of thunderstorms formed over Belgium, moving rapidly in the direction of NRW. 

At the same time, counter-rotating vortices were formed at the north and south ends. In the area between the vortices, an intense band of strong winds develops, which enters the thunderstorm system from the rear. In the front area of ​​the thunderstorm line, this strong wind band (Rear Inflow Jet, RIJ) reached the ground and caused extreme wind gusts of up to around 150 km/h (a maximum of 144 km/h was measured at a weather station). 

The RIJ gives the thunderstorm line an arc shape, which is why it is also called a bow echo. Unfortunately, widespread damage was caused by the bow echo, with six people losing their lives tragically.

Taken on June 9, 2014. 

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