Storm in Rakvere damages 110 houses

  • 2000-07-20
TALLINN (BNS) - A tornado-like storm hit the north Estonian town of Rakvere on July 15, killing one person, injuring another, knocking down power lines and damaging 110 homes and 120 garages.

Tentative damage estimates by the Rakvere municipal government may reach 5 million kroons ($305,000), Rakvere's Deputy Mayor Peep Vassilyev said.

"These calculations apply only to the damaged buildings. The city government hasn't yet started to calculate damage caused by the destruction of power lines, street lamps and trees," he said.

The rare cyclone that swept across the town from southeast to northwest in the early afternoon killed one person who was hit by a timber flung through the window of a stopped minivan. The victim was killed instantly.

A 53-year-old woman was hit by a piece of plywood but was released from doctors' care after receiving emergency aid.

The storm rose at about 12:30 p.m. and lasted for about 10 minutes.

Most of the houses damaged by the wind were private homes, and only a few of them were insured, Vassilyev said.

Scores of vehicles suffered damage, although the exact number was not available. From Rakvere, the cyclone moved on to the nearby village of Aaspere, where it shattered the roofs of four houses.

The municipal authorities of Rakvere intend to turn to the government for help to cover the damage.

Speaking from the Estonian Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology, researcher Ain Kallis said an average of one or two cyclones sweep through Estonia each year.

In 1998, however, when weather conditions were largely similar to this year, over 20 cyclones were recorded. The abundance of cyclones in 1998 could be explained by the combination of humidity, evaporated water, sufficient heat, and thunder, Kallis said.

Cyclones here have seldom hit urban areas, which is why damages caused by them have been relatively small, the researcher added.

The cyclone which ravaged through Rakvere on July 15 was the first in Estonia this year. A cyclone that strong usually hits Estonia only once every five to ten years, Kallis said.