Wind — severe windstorms

Page Last modified 19 Nov 2021
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Severe windstorms can cause widespread damage to forests, buildings, and transport and energy infrastructure. High winds at sea contribute to storm surges, which can be destructive for coastal regions. Storms were the costliest natural hazard in terms of insured losses in Europe, with the highest impacts in north-western Europe, especially in coastal areas.

Key messages

  • Limited data and inherent weaknesses in current climate models make projections for extreme wind more uncertain than for other climate hazards.
  • There is moderate confidence in projections that the frequency and intensity of storms will increase in northern and central Europe. For southern Europe, storm intensity is expected to increase but with a decrease in their frequency.

Extreme wind speed days


The extreme wind speed days index counts the number of days with daily maximum wind speeds above the 98th percentile, computed over the reference period. Variants of the index can adopt different percentile-based thresholds for identifying the extreme conditions.

Index factsheet (ETC/CCA Technical Paper): Extreme wind speed days


The index can be easily interpreted and used in applications related to the design and maintenance of buildings, energy and transport infrastructure, and forest management.

Past and projected changes

Because of the limited availability of data from observations and the high degree of uncertainty associated with model projections of extreme wind speed, this index is not currently covered in any Copernicus Climate Change Service (CS3) Climate Data Store (CDS) data set.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment Report (IPCC, 2021: Climate change information for regional impact and for risk assessment, Section 12.4.5) finds with medium confidence that the frequency and intensity of storms, including strong winds and extra-tropical storms, is likely to increase in northern and central Europe. For southern Europe, storm intensity is expected to increase and storm frequency to decrease.

Chapters of the Europe's changing climate hazards report

  1. Heat and cold

  2. Wet and dry

  3. Wind

  4. Snow and ice

  5. Coastal

  6. Open ocean


Back to main page of the report


Geographic coverage



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Filed under: windstorms
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