A violent tornado in mid-18th century Germany: the Genzmer Report

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Title vignette of the Genzmer Report 1765 depicting the “wedge-shaped” tornado.

250 years ago, German scientist Gottlob Burchard Genzmer (1716-1771) published a detailed study of a violent tornado event which hit the eastern part of today’s German federal state Mecklenburg-Vorpommern on June 29 1764. The report consists of a foreword and seven letters Genzmer wrote to the minister of Mecklenburg-Strelitz who asked him for a survey of the damage and the circumstances of this natural disaster. Genzmer started his research on August 30 and completed his work on December 18. The report was published in form of a book in 1765 including two copper plate illustrations by the author: one sketch of typical tree damage and a map of the tornado path. The title vignette depicts poorly the appearance of the wedge-type tornado at the lake shore near the city of Feldberg. Genzmer provides a detailed description of the tornado impact based on damage still visible as well as eye witness reports. With respect to the latter, he critically scrutinizes possible exaggeration and inconsistencies. This concerns particularly “incredible” damage such as large oaks stubs ripped off the ground.

Gottlob Burchard Genzmer (1716-1771) [Wikipedia, in German]

Digitalized version of the 1765 book [Bayerische Staatsbibliothek]

PDF transcript of the Genzmer Report [B. Feuerstein 2005, full text with figures, in German]

Poster about the Genzmer Report (1765) at ECSS 2015 (Wiener Neustadt)

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