ERNEE, France – Drivers on a highway in Ernee, France, drove white-knuckled after they looked beyond the trees to see an apparent tornado whirling near the highway a little after 5:30 in the evening on Sunday.
Only a few dozen tornadoes form in the entire country every year, according to Meteo-France. So, drivers were understandably shocked by the rare event. Most of the tornadoes are small, brief and low-intensity in France.
The tornado tore through several cattle barns and sheds in northwest France. Some social media posts show pictures of barns without roofs and others collapsed. One post reported several injured livestock.
On Sunday, the threat of violent weather forced Meteo-France to issue storm alerts. Over 30 departments were placed on orange alert.
Forensic meteorologists will confirm whether this was a tornado.
Europe's tornado history
Since 1800, mainland France has only seen about 40 deadly tornadoes, according to Meteo-France. The deadliest tornado in Europe was in France. It killed 70 people in 1845.
Europe sees about 300 to 400 tornadoes a year, according to the European Severe Storms Laboratory. A European Severe Storms Laboratory researcher published a study logging tornadoes from 2000 to 2013. He found the highest densities of twisters in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Austria, the Czech Republic and Poland.