A group of tourists in Belarus had a close call with a possible tornado as they drove through a forested area on Aug. 2.
The tourists were traveling near the city of Polatsk, located in the northern part of the country about three hours from the capital city of Minsk.
The dramatic footage, taken by Li Chao, a traveler who told Storyful he is spending his summer vacation in Belarus along with his friends, shows the group driving down a tree-lined road as high winds and heavy rain ramp up. As the storm continues to escalate, trees farther down the road begin to topple one after the other with apparent ease, and the driver slams the car into reverse.
The possible tornado suddenly enters the frame, throwing leaves, sticks and other debris at the car's windshield as the storm envelops Chao and his friends, who take cover in the vehicle. After the storm passes, its destruction is evident, with toppled trees and still-gusty winds bending trees sideways.
The storm uprooted trees and damaged roofs in the area, according to information from the Belarusian government, Storyful said. No injuries were reported.
AccuWeather Meteorologist Maura Kelly said she couldn't identify a tornado based on the video alone, but that she did notice a swirling mesocyclone peek over the tree line.
"A mesocyclone is an area of rotation in a thunderstorm and can produce the most violent impacts, including large hail, damaging winds and tornadoes," Kelly said.
While tornadoes are most common in the United States, conditions for severe thunderstorm and tornado development can be found across Europe, with tornadoes having been reported in nearly every European nation, according to a 2014 study.
A view shows debris and damaged cars in the aftermath of a rare tornado that struck and destroyed parts of some towns, in Moravska Nova Ves village, Czech Republic, June 25, 2021. (Photo/REUTERS/David W Cerny)
In July, an unusually strong tornado tore through the Czech Republic, killing six. The tornado was later rated an F4, making it the most powerful tornado ever recorded in the country.
The possible tornado that touched down in Belarus does not appear to have been nearly that strong. AccuWeather Meteorologist Rob Richards said that the conditions were ripe for tornadoes and severe thunderstorms in Belarus on Aug. 2. However, volatile conditions were not widespread enough to trigger a major outbreak of damaging storms.
"This one instance was rather isolated though, since no major front or low pressure area went through the region," Richards said.
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