Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tornado in Venice - Eyewitness Report - Cat, You're Not in Kansas Anymore

Tornado in Venice
(Venice, Italy) Just like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, I got hit by the tornado in Venice today. This morning, I was on the motoscafo, Line 42, hauling a carrello (hand-cart) full of documents, my computer, and some other stuff. It was heavy.

At the San Pietro stop, it was sunny. About a minute or two later, as we made our way to Certosa, hail started falling. By the time we rounded the bend to Sant' Elena, we were smack in the middle of a tornado. It takes nine minutes to get to Sant' Elena from San Pietro. That is a sudden change of weather.
At first, I was oblivious. I had lugged my carrello down the steps and was sitting outside with my back facing forward, so I couldn't see the lagoon. The boat stopped at Sant' Elena. Then it did not move. A man started hollering for everyone to get off. At first, I thought he was a tour guide yelling at his group. His voice became very serious. "Get off NOW. Get off NOW. Everyone get off the boat RIGHT NOW! Tromba d'aria! Tromba d'aria! TORNADO!!!"

Tornado in Venice
Whenever tragedy strikes, time always seems to go in slow motion. Everyone started rushing off the boat. The seriousness of the situation still hadn't really registered in my mind. But when I saw everyone start to panic, I thought I'd better get off the boat. Actually, first I thought I should stay on the boat because it might be safer, so there were a few moments when I hesitated as to the best course of action. Then I decided to get off the boat... mostly because it was a boat, and I vaguely remembered that a bunch of people died back when a boat flipped over during a tornado by Sant' Elena... (I just checked and it was on September 11, 1970 -- 21 people died when a motoscofo by Sant' Elena got sucked up in the air, plus another 12 on land.)

My carrello got jammed by some steel panels on the floor of the boat. "Aiuto! Help!" I hollered. But everyone was galloping off the boat. Somehow I unwedged the carrello and lugged it up the steps. There was no way all my documents, and my computer -- containing a project I have been working on for several years to bring down the Evil Empire -- were going to end up in the Land of Oz.

Most of the people were off the boat and into the vaporetto stop. But as I got to the sliding gate at the top of the boat, the tornado came down right on top of us. There was a woman in front of me, grabbing onto the railing. I wrapped my arm around her, and grabbed hold of the railing, my other hand clutching the carrello. An ACTV employee squatted down on the floor of the boat, gripping onto the railing. My hair whipped around my face. Rain splattered. My umbrella got sucked up and disappeared. The wind was so powerful, it was hard to keep a grip.

I thought: "This is probably a life or death situation!" WE COULD NOT MOVE OFF THE BOAT because the wind was so strong. So we held on tight and rode it out. A man inside the Sant' Elena vaporetto stop, young and fit, extended a hand to the woman in front of me, like God reaching out to Michelangelo in a tempest, but the distance was too great and the wind was too strong. Finally, he managed to grasp the woman's hand, and hauled her off the boat. Then he grabbed my hand, and yanked me, and my carrello, off, too.

That was my second tornado, and I have to say, it really gets the adrenaline running. It was quite a thrill. My first tornado was in Croatia, which is another story.

Later on in the day, I went back down past Sant' Elena, and saw that the trees had been knocked down, boats turned over; it was a disaster.

From ANSA:

Tornado strikes Venice, narrowly misses center

Dozens of boats overturned, serious crop damage

12 June, 19:39

(ANSA) - Venice, June 12 - A dramatic funnel cloud sweptover Venice on Tuesday and narrowly missed the center of town,striking instead the outskirts and uprooting trees andoverturning dozens of boats.
Witnesses first reported the dark waterspout approachingfrom Lido island at the extreme east end of the lagoon beforeencroaching closer to the historic center.
The twister brought down a wall at the Venezia soccerstadium, damaged the Morosini naval academy and ruined a rowingclubhouse.
Click to read the ANSA report.
From YouTube:

Here is the link to the Venetian Cat - Venice Blog follow-up to this story:

Tornado in Venice - The Aftermath

UPDATE - July 9, 2015 - To read about the recent tornardo in Dolo just outside Venice, click HERE to go to the Independent.

Ciao from Venice,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog


  1. Just like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, I got hit by the tornado in Venice today. This morning, I was on the motoscafo, Line 42, hauling a carrello (hand-cart) full of documents, my computer, and some other stuff. It was heavy.

  2. Wow Cat! Three earthquakes and a tornado in Italy in one month. I can't believe Venice had a tornado and YOU were in the middle of it. So glad you are safe. (I would have held on to my computer too!!)

  3. Somehow, Theresa, I seem to be in the middle of everything:)