No, Zrenjanin Was Not Affected by a ‘Mesocyclonic Tornado’

FakeNews Tragač, Illustration

Original article (in Serbian) was published on 26/6/2024; Author: Ivan Subotić

In mid-June, several local media reported that Zrenjanin had been hit by a tornado. The media took this information from the Instagram profile of the meteorological startup company Hailz Srbija (@hailz_srbija), which has 38 thousand followers. In its post, Hailz writes that Zrenjanin was hit by the so-called “mesocyclonic tornado” and that it was confirmed by the radar image. FakeNews Tragac, in a conversation with Vladimir Djurdjevic, a meteorologist and professor at the Faculty of Physics in Belgrade, concluded that the storm in Zrenjanin did not involve the appearance of a tornado.

The meteorological startup company Hailz is currently addressing the public via Instagram and Telegram, but in the description of their account, they state that their application and website are under construction. Our interlocutor, meteorologist Vladimir Djurdjevic, states that he has heard about this startup company, but that he does not know much about their activities. “Based on what I saw in the media, it seemed to me at the beginning that they communicated fairly correctly about meteorological phenomena, but lately, at least as far as I’m concerned, they’ve gone a little into the ‘gray zone’”, says Djurdjevic.

Information about the tornado in Zrenjanin taken from the Hailz Srbija Instagram was reported by the following web portals: Republika, Glas javnosti, Mondo, Srbin info, Vojvodina uzivo, Red portal, Pink, Direktno, Blic, Srbija danas, B92, Kurir, Nova, 24 sedam, Alo and Informer.

Is There Such a Thing as a ‘Mesocyclonic Tornado’?

“Tornado from the supercell near Zrenjanin, shortly after 3 p.m. Although the condensation of the funnel is not visible to the ground, the circulation near the ground is observed (a mesocyclonic tornado arises from both the ground and the cloud base simultaneously). Low cloud bases and high humidity below the cloud base made this phenomenon possible, after a short warming in that region. The radar image confirmed the tornado”. This was announced on June 12 on the Instagram account of Hailz Srbija, and then reported by several media outlets.

It was not very clear to us what Hailz meant when they wrote about a “mesocyclonic tornado”, so we asked Professor Vladimir Djurdjevic if something like a “mesocyclonic tornado” really exists. His answer was very concise – “Mesocyclonic tornado does not exist”.

“A mesocyclone is a swirling movement of air within a convective storm and is most often seen within specific convective storms called supercells when they are associated with an updraft within the storm. As part of a mesocyclone, a tornado can appear, which is formed in its lower part”, explains Djurdjevic and adds that “it is very difficult to say whether a mesocyclone existed within some of the storms in Serbia, which are a relatively common occurrence because the Republic Hydrometeorological Institute of Serbia (RHMZ) “does not publish pictures of the wind field, which has been observed by radar”.

What Kind of Storm Hit Zrenjanin, and Was It a Tornado?

According to Professor Djurdjevic, there was no tornado in Zrenjanin. “The funnel-shaped part of the cloud that can be seen in the video cannot be called a tornado, because, in the case of a tornado, the funnel-shaped part of the cloud must touch the ground, i.e. it must extend from the base of the cloud to the ground. It is often the case that such a funnel-shaped part is formed that does not reach the ground, and in that case, we cannot say that a tornado has occurred”, Djurdjevic explained.

Although based on the footage that appeared on the Internet and on the Hailz Instagram, it is very difficult to say exactly what kind of storm happened in Zrenjanin, Vladimir Djurdjevic states that Zrenjanin was most likely hit by a convective storm. “It is very difficult to understand the exact structure of a storm with a classic visual observation from the ground”, says Djurdjevic who says that for a definitive determination of the type of storm, radar images are needed, which the RHMZ does not publish.

Are These Phenomena Related to Climate Change, and Will They Become More Frequent?

Convective storms like the one that happened in Zrenjanin are actually common meteorological phenomena that include thunder, lightning, strong wind, hail, rain and sudden changes in temperature. So, nothing we haven’t experienced before. However, Professor Djurdjevic draws attention to the fact that “climate changes can contribute to this becoming more intense, primarily because a warmer atmosphere can contain more water vapor on average”. “Simply put, more water vapor available means that the storm can be stronger”, concludes Djurdjevic.

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