Several French websites – including Meteorologic.net – are reporting a tornado that formed near the city of Toulouse in southwestern France earlier today (April 29, 2012). A number of people apparently witnessed the tornado, and several caught photographs, some of which were uploaded to Twitter.
The tornado was first sighted 15-20 kilometers (9 to 13 miles) south of Toulouse around 7:10 p.m. local time. The tornado then moved towards in a northeasterly direction toward the southern part of the city of Toulouse, France. Only minor damage was reported including collapsed walls, uprooted trees and cars moved out of place in Toulouse. Meteorologic reported:
This tornado apparently caused little damage. It could therefore be classified as F1 on the Fujita scale.
An F1 tornado is defined as having winds in the range of 73 to 112 miles per hour (117 to 180 kilometers per hour).
Violent tornadoes are rare in France. On August 3, 2008, however, the town of Hautmont, France tornado was struck by a much more powerful tornado than the one that touched down near Toulouse today. The 2008 tornado left a path of destruction about 19 kilometers (12 mi) long through several small towns, especially in Hautmont, where four people were killed and another nine were injured by the tornado.
Bottom line: A tornado touched down near the city of Toulouse in France on the evening of April 29, 2012. It did only minor damage and was reportedly classified as an F1 tornado on the Fujita scale.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.