A catastrophic event: the Vaia Storm

End of October 2018, Storm Vaia arrives

The Vaia storm, also known as Tempesta Vaia, was a violent atmospheric disturbance that ravaged our region, bringing it to its knees in October 2018.

Storm Vaia tore down approximately 15 million trees, creating a massive tangle of fallen trunks, shattered branches, uprooted roots, soil, and stones. Entire slopes were stripped bare by the storm, and an ancient landscape was irreversibly lost. Vaia’s roar claimed a portion of a landscape that had seemed immutable and eternal, yet always evolving; in the forest, old trees make way for the new.

Vaia made no distinctions, as often happens in war. It is unlikely that future generations will have the chance to witness this landscape as it once stood, and they will come to know it only through images, stories, and the recollections of those who inhabited it.

The severe weather in Veneto, characterized by ferocious winds, wrought truly staggering environmental devastation. The aftermath of the Vaia storm included 41 thousand hectares of forests laid to waste, 15 million trees, and 8.6 million cubic meters of timber felled in a matter of minutes by gusts of wind reaching up to 200 km/h, spanning Trentino, Alto Adige, Veneto, Lombardy, and Friuli Venezia Giulia.

La Regione più colpita dalla tempesta Vaia è stata il Veneto. Nella regione i danni sono stati valutati in 1 miliardo e 769 milioni di Euro. Seppure ingenti, nell’area di Cortina d’Ampezzo i danni sono stati minimi in confronto ad altre zone del Veneto. I territori maggiormente colpiti sono stati quelli di Agordino, Cadore, Feltrino, Comelico, Carnia, Val di Fassa e Val di Fiemme.

Il maltempo in Veneto è stato caratterizzato da un fortissimo vento caldo di scirocco. Il vento ha soffiato tra i 100 e i 200 km/h per diverse ore, provocando lo schianto di milioni di alberi con la conseguente distruzione di decine di migliaia di ettari di foreste alpine. Secondo le prime stime sono stati abbattuti tra i 6 e gli 8 milioni di metri cubi di legname. Un dato come questo non è mai registrato in epoca recente in Italia, un vero e proprio disastro naturale.

The region most severely impacted by storm Vaia was Veneto, with the estimated damage reaching 1.769 billion euros. While the Cortina d’Ampezzo area saw relatively minimal impact compared to other regions of Veneto, areas such as Agordino, Cadore, Feltrino, Comelico, Carnia, Val di Fassa, and Val di Fiemme suffered the most.

The adverse weather conditions in Veneto were characterized by a powerful, scorching sirocco wind. The wind raged at speeds between 100 and 200 km/h for several hours, causing millions of trees to crash down and leading to the subsequent devastation of tens of thousands of hectares of alpine forest. Preliminary estimates suggest that between 6 and 8 million cubic meters of wood were brought down, marking an unprecedented natural disaster in recent Italian history.

Due to the collapse of numerous trees onto power lines and the falling of many pylons, the mountainous Triveneto area experienced severe and prolonged disruptions in electricity distribution.

This event was undeniably the most significant wind disturbance witnessed in Italy in recent memory. The adverse weather in Veneto and the fierce winds affected forests that, in addition to being among the most picturesque and renowned in the Alps, constitute a cultural and natural heritage of immeasurable value.

The devastating onslaught of adverse weather in the Triveneto followed a powerful disturbance of Atlantic origin. Storm Vaia brought sustained rainfall to the region, commencing on October 26, 2018. In just three days, over 870 mm of rain inundated some areas, causing the Piave and Brenta rivers to overflow and resulting in the flooding of Lake Alleghe.

Is climate change to blame?

As of now, it remains uncertain whether the genesis of storm Vaia can be attributed to climate changes on our planet. What is certain, however, is that catastrophic natural events are becoming increasingly frequent. Torrential rainfall of unprecedented intensity, perpetually rising temperatures, and water scarcity are looming threats; by 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population will likely be affected by water lack.

I sincerely hope that the global powers and governments will earnestly commit to seeking effective solutions to what, in my view, constitutes humanity’s paramount challenge in the 21st century.

Why is it Called Vaia?

Why does Storm Vaia have that name?

As a point of curiosity, sourced from the newspaper L’Adige: “I was curious about the reason behind this name, and I discovered that the Meteorological Institute of the Free University of Berlin is tasked with naming the areas of low or high pressure that successively occur in Europe. This name can be acquired and customized. A German citizen had the idea to present his sister, named Vaia Jakobs and a manager of a large multinational group, with a unique gift by naming the low-pressure area that had formed in our latitudes at the end of October 2018 after her. The name ‘Vaia’ was bestowed without prior knowledge of the devastation the storm would bring. The entire process cost 199 euros, plus VAT. Naming high-pressure areas carries a higher price. Due to their longer duration, the cost is 299 euros, plus VAT.

Storm Vaia

For further information on the adverse weather in the Triveneto, you can refer to the American Meteorological Society.

Enrico Maioni Mountain Guide Dolomiti

Enrico Maioni

Certified Mountain Guide, with a wide know-how of the Dolomiti.
I was born in the heart of the Dolomites, where I live and work to this day.
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