A catalog of high-impact windstorms in Switzerland since 1859

Stucki, Peter; Brönnimann, Stefan; Martius, Olivia; Welker, Christoph Simon; Imhof, M.; von Wattenwyl, N.; Philipp, N. (2014). A catalog of high-impact windstorms in Switzerland since 1859. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, 14(11), pp. 2867-2882. Copernicus Publications 10.5194/nhess-14-2867-2014

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In recent decades, extremely hazardous windstorms have caused enormous losses to buildings, infrastructure and forests in Switzerland. This has increased societal and scientific interest in the intensity and frequency of historical high-impact storms. However, high-resolution wind data and damage statistics mostly span recent decades only.

For this study, we collected quantitative (e.g., volumes of windfall timber, losses relating to buildings) and descriptive (e.g., forestry or insurance reports) information on the impact of historical windstorms. To define windstorm severity, normalized and declustered quantitative data were processed by extreme value statistics. Descriptive information was classified using a conceptual guideline. Validation with independent damage information, as well as comparison with wind measurements and a reanalysis, indicates that the most hazardous winter storms are captured, while too few moderate windstorms are detected. Strong storms in the wind measurements and reanalysis are thus added to the catalog.

The final catalog encompasses approximately 240 high-impact windstorms in Switzerland since 1859. It features three robust severity classes and contains eight extreme windstorms. Evidence of high winter storm activity in the early and late 20th century compared to the mid-20th century in both damage and wind data indicates a co-variability of hazard and related damage on decadal timescales.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Physical Geography > Unit Climatology
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Physical Geography > Unit Impact
10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography

UniBE Contributor:

Stucki, Peter; Brönnimann, Stefan; Romppainen-Martius, Olivia and Welker, Christoph Simon


500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology
900 History > 910 Geography & travel




Copernicus Publications




Monika Wälti-Stampfli

Date Deposited:

10 Nov 2014 12:05

Last Modified:

01 Sep 2015 10:22

Publisher DOI:






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