Whirlwind devastates houses in Bērzpils parish in Latvia

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On Saturday afternoon, July 6, a whirlwind damaged several houses in the Bērzpils parish of Balvi region, head of the Bērzpils parish administration Biruta Bogdane told LETA on July 7. 

Bogdane said that the whirlwind was seen at 15:00 on Saturday and was very strong. "It followed a narrow line from Gulbene to Rgāji, where it caused damage,” said Bogdane.

Three houses were destroyed in the Bērzpils parish – two had roofs torn from them, while the third suffered more damage, stated Bogdane, adding that she has yet to see the property and is planning to do so soon.

Photographs and videos taken by witnesses show significant damage on a farm somewhere in the Bērzpils parish. 

Before and after: pic.twitter.com/PGXmseU5HV

— Kristians Drake (@kristians_k) July 7, 2019

There were no casualties, but the four-generation “Krastiņi” farm, which was situated in “Golvaros” in the Bērzpils parish, was razed in under two minutes. The neighbors came to aid in collecting the wind-strewn possessions.

Bērzpils parish: pic.twitter.com/3EuL53CCqQ

— Kristians Drake (@kristians_k) July 7, 2019

The whirlwind also laid waste to the Golvari cemetery, as well as the surrounding forests. "The trees look as if they were peeled, the damage was significant,” said Bogdane.

Asked if the parish would provide some assistance to the damaged farms, Bogdane said that the parish has no funds, and so the application for funds will be made to the Balvi region on Monday. "We'll also have to ask for the help of some builders, as the parish doesn't have such specialists,” said Bogdane.

One of the Bērzpils parish farms told LETA that there was an overall of seven buildings on the farm, six of which were practically destroyed, one of them being a residential building. During the three minute whirlwind, the farm's owner and his 87 year old mother were on the premises. The woman was working in the kitchen, while her son labored in the garage. They were not harmed by the whirlwind.

The farmers said that the vortex had not only lifted the roofs of the buildings, ruining them, but had also hoisted various bulky items such as a freezer, which was later found in the near field. Parts of the sauna roof hoisted by the whirlwind had also maimed a cow, which was standing in the field at the time. 

The farm admits that the damage is being addressed, but the natural disaster has utterly destroyed the property. "Only cattle and humans are left,” said one of the farmers.

The storm had also wrought havoc on Gulbene and Ludza on Saturday, leaving hundreds of houses without electricity.

Gales had felled trees in the Gulbene cemetery and destroyed the discus throw sector in the city's stadium. Normunds Audzišs (ZZS), chairman of the Gulbene Region Council, told LETA that many three to four trees had fallen on roads. In the cemetery, the winds had felled birch trees and scattered their branches. 

Audžiss also mentioned that the wind had felled five to six metal poles in the discus throw sector of the city stadium. At the time of the storm, an athletics competition for seniors was planned to take place in the stadium.

On July 7, moreover, a twister, captured in photographs taken by witnesses, was seen not far from the Rīga Airport. 

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The twister, which had not reached the ground, and was thus not a fully formed tornado, is often called a "funnel cloud".

Even though a funnel cloud can be potentially dangerous for planes, it poses no real threat. It is clearly visible to pilots and can be easily avoided.

The funnel cloud was also noticed in other areas. One was spotted in the vicinity of Mežaparks. There were also reports of one being seen in Jūrmala.

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