On 11 March 2021, the powerful low-pressure system “Klaus” moved from the northern tip of Scotland across the North Sea towards Scandinavia and brought gale-force winds to Germany. Stormy winds with gusts of 8 Beaufort were widespread, and gale-force gusts of 11 Beaufort were also recorded locally in the lowlands. The highest wind gust was measured at 150 km/h on the Feldberg in the Black Forest.
Change of circulation pattern
Large parts of the winter 2020/2021 in Europe were characterized by a weak westerly wind drift. This also becomes clear when looking at the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index. This was almost consistently negative from December to mid-February, indicating low air pressure contrasts between Iceland and the Azores.
Since mid-February, this has now changed and the NAO index has jumped to positive values. This is accompanied by an increasing westerly wind circulation over the Atlantic, as a result of which storm lows have now also penetrated to Europe.
Evolution of the storm
The frontal system of low pressure system “Klaus” reached western Germany in the early morning hours. By morning, the wind had reached wind force 8, locally also wind force 9, especially in the west of Germany and along the coasts. Gusts of hurricane force were also measured in some places on the mountains of the low mountain ranges.
In the morning, storm activity intensified further, initially over the west. In North Rhine-Westphalia, wind gusts of more than 100 km/h were measured locally (Nörvenich: 104 km/h, Issum: 102 km/h). Such wind speeds were also reached directly on the North Sea coast and in the mountains.
The fronts of low pressure system “Klaus” continued to move rapidly across the country In the afternoon, another trough line followed, along which showers and also thunderstorms formed. Especially during the rapid passage of these showers and thunderstorms, wind gusts of 10 Beaufort were reached in inland areas, locally even 11 Beaufort were reported.
In the evening, the focus of storm activity shifted to the Baltic Sea coast and also to southern Germany. On Hiddensee, gusts of up to 122 km/h reached full gale force 12 Beaufort at 8 pm. The highest gust of the day in the whole of Germany was measured at the same time on the Feldberg in the Black Forest with 150 km/h.
Highest wind gusts measured in Germany
|Weather station||highest wind gust [KM/H]|
|LT Alte Weser||130|
|FS TW Ems||108|
|FS Deutsche Bucht||104|
Area-wide severe weather analyses
MeteoIQ has data from more than 1,500 weather stations in Germany at its disposal. This data is also used in our severe weather analyses, which provide comprehensive information on storms, hail, precipitation and lightning. The geographical distribution of the storm field of low “Klaus” on March 11, 2021, as well as the locations where lightning strikes occurred are shown in the following two figures.
Storm “Klaus” ushers in a period of windy days in Germany. According to forecasts, the next storm is expected on Saturday, although the intensity is not expected to reach that of “Klaus” again.
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