How A Wind Gust In Hamburg Morphed Into Major “Tornado” In The Media…Made International Headlines

If you happened to read or hear the German and international headlines from just over a week ago, you’d think the million-population port city of Hamburg, Germany, had been hit by a devastating tornado on June 22, leaving a path of destruction in its wake.

What follows is a great example of how the media will run with anything, without checking, as long as it fits their climate and extreme weather narrative. The German media over the years have been tending to hype up every weather anomaly — to get the message into people’s heads that climate change is real and is happening.

The following story is almost unbelievable. A local gust of wind toppling over a few trees somehow managed to morph within the media into a headline-making super-tornado that supposedly ripped through a large city. Fake news at its best.

On June 22 a cold front swept across Hamburg, Germany, accompanied by severe weather, so “severe” that hundreds of media outlets, domestic and foreign, reported it has headline news.

Skeptical, Spiegel science journalist Axel Bojanowski decided to investigate to see what really happened, and subsequently reported here the result. It turns out it was 99% fake news. Bojanowski wrote:

Residents spoke of heavy damage, the media reported. However the body of evidence is thin. […] the search for evidence has proven to be difficult.”

It turns out that the “tornado” that supposedly hit Hamburg in broad daylight, a city of some 1 million residents, so far has found only one single (dubious) witness. Yet, it was all the media needed to unleash sensational headlines globally: “A tornado rips through the city of Hamburg“.

DWD sets off confusion

According to Bojanowski “the storm of confusion” over the “tornado” was started around lunch time by the German DWD national weather service, which tweeted: “Tornado over Hamburg! About 10 km SSW from the city center. Lasted about 5 min.”

This in turn was followed by the German DPA press agency (Germany’s version of the AP) releasing at 2:34 pm: “Tornado leaves devastation in its wake south of Hamburg.” Here the German DPA relied on a sole eyewitness report from firefighter Stefanie Engelke, who reported witnessing up close a powerful gust of wind uprooting some trees that toppled onto a building, causing damage to its roof.

Shortly thereafter, however, the Hamburg Fire Department disputed that a “tornado” had ever occurred, tweeting later it had “no knowledge over any tornado“. Yet the DPA stuck to its story, Bojanowski writes. And the DWD weather service also reiterated having witnessed a tornado.

Wind gust morphs into “devastating tornado”

But then veteran high-profile meteorologist Jörg Kachelmann tweeted his doubts about the “tornado eye-witness fire fighter” which the DPA relied on for its report of “devastation”. Kachelmann tweeted:

Clueless fireman, who saw no tornado but damage like you see on TV, yet suffices for a total fabrication @dpa. 

But it was already too late. By then that powerful wind gust, which had uprooted some trees, quickly managed to morph into a full fledge super tornado in the media, and got reported internationally. The World News Media here tweeted:

Tornado tears through following extreme heat wave …”.

By Thursday evening, the DWD backed off its original “5-minute tornado” account, tweeting that it had witnessed the “tornado” near the middle of the city instead. Later at Facebook the DWD even released a photo of the “tornado” it had “seen”:

DWD tweet n English:

As reported earlier today, the DWD colleagues of the Aviation Advisory Center North at the Hamburg airport saw a very short-lived tornado about 10 km ssw of the airport at 11:37 a.m. It had ground contact less than 5 minutes  (visible by the rotating dust cloud beneath the funnel cloud). Magnitude estimated at F0, and indeed did not cause any damage.”

That hardly looks like a tornado in the photo. And so not surprisingly even that DWD account got disputed later by a witness. At Twitter Hamburg resident Kerrag posted a 1:55 minute video showing no ground contact at all!

That’s the story of how the Hamburg “tornado”, which was merely a gust of wind, wound up making international headlines as a “devastating” tornado that had flattened part of a major European city.


13 responses to “How A Wind Gust In Hamburg Morphed Into Major “Tornado” In The Media…Made International Headlines”

  1. tom0mason

    Media generated hysteria of little worth.

    1. Kenneth Richard

      Guo et al., 2016
      Variability of Tornado Occurrence over the Continental United States since 1950

      “The United States experiences the most tornadoes of any country in the world. Given the catastrophic impact of tornadoes, concern has arisen regarding the variation in climatology of U.S. tornadoes under the changing climate. … U.S. tornado occurrence has remained nearly constant since 1950.”

      1. tom0mason

        Indeed Kenneth,

        Hamburg tornadoes appear to be without the bovine muscularity of their US counterparts. German hamburger sans beef?
        However it seems that the vegetable matter stirred-up in this reporters cup was likely to have been more than just herbal tea, and caused him to expell flatus through his thinking parts.

        1. AndyG55

          too many words tom).

          Keep its short..

          The journalist took a verbal laxative !! 😉

          1. Hivemind

            Verbal diarrhea in Australian parlance.

  2. Curious George

    Surely it was Trump’s fault.

    1. dennisambler

      Or Putin…maybe both, in an attempt to destroy the EU.

  3. Curious George

    President Trump announced a withdrawal from Paris Accord, and the very next week he attempts to completely destroy Hamburg – just to prevent any criticism at an upcoming G20 Hamburg.

  4. John F. Hultquist

    Here is a story of a tornado and includes 3 pictures of the town.
    Picture #2 shows what a real tornado does to things and trees.
    Whole parts of a tree, except a stump, can end up 20 km. away.

    With strong gusts, a tree can be tipped over, roots and all, called windthrow. Other times they break halfway or more up. Or, sometimes the top bends and when the gust is over, the top will snap back so forcefully that the tree breaks and on a straight tall tree, the top falls and spears the ground (the brief calm allows this to occur).

    Valleys that have a wide opening to a strong wind will cause an increase in wind speed as the valley narrows and goes up. Many hundreds of trees can break and/or go over in a short time. Tornado not required.

  5. Colorado Wellington

    Based on previous experience, I expect sod & seb to appear soon and assure us it was a bona-fide CO2-caused super-tornado just like it was forecast in Al Gore’s scientific PowerPoint.

    1. SebastianH

      Whatever it was, I didn’t see any mention of a “super tornado” in the media, when was this supposed to have made “headlines”? What media outlet reported anything like what this post suggest? You mean the tweet from RT ( 😉

      1. Colorado Wellington

        What, CO2 caused an unprecedented tornado and somehow it’s not super? What’s wrong with your Weltanschauung?

        Think progress, comrade Seb.

        Superstorm Sandy’s Link To Climate Change

        A ‘Super Tornado’ Like El Reno Could Hit a Major City

        Unprecedented super-drought to hit USA

  6. Glyn Palmer

    “Small tornado hits Hamburg. Not many dead.”

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