List of Figures


TornImage: Historical and Contemporary Depictions of Tornado in Art and Science

Tornado and related phenomena: waterspout, downburst, whirlwind, dust devil, fire whirl.
Looking through literature.

Note: this is work in progress

(in fact, I’ve barely begun)

13-th century


Gallery of Natural Phenomena

Waterspouts are depicted in a 13th-century manuscript by Albertus Magnus

René Chaboud “How Weather Works: Understanding the Elements” (Thames and Hudson, 1996; originally Gallimard, 1994)

Lightning and waterspouts. Miniature in Albertus Magnus’ translation of Lucretius’ De rerum natura, 13th century. Bibliotheque de l’Abbaye de St-Amand

(citation via Christopher Chatfield)


Medieval manuscript illumination of lightning and a cloudburst over the sea from Albertus Magnus’ De Natura Rerum

From here, it spread all over the web.

This is how I know it’s not true:

Saint-Amand Abbey was declared national property in 1789, and mostly demolished between 1797 and 1820. All the books from its library are now in Municipal Library of Valenciennes in Northern France. Search shows it has no such book by Albertus Magnus.

Furthermore, no Albert the Great’s bibliography I could find lists this work (see e.g. catholic encyclopaedia). On the other hand, his student and friend Thomas of Cantimpré certainly did write a book of this name, and it survives as partial copies in about a hundred manuscripts.

And indeed:

MS 320. Thomas de Cantimpré, De natura rerum, XIIIe siècle
Manuscrit sur parchemin, 198 f. à 2 col., 230 x 156 mm.
Provenance : Abbaye de Saint-Amand (confiscation révolutionnaire).

Black and white microfilm of the manuscript
the miniature is in image 206 (folio 196v)

Notice the words “de eclipsi solis” written in what was red ink next to the image.

In 2000, Barbara Gatewood defended dissertation on the manuscript in the University of Pittsburgh (“Illustrating a thirteenth-century natural history encyclopedia : the pictorial tradition of Thomas of Cantimpre’s “De natura rerum” and Valenciennes Municipal Library Manuscript 320″, abstract). Among other things, it has a list of all illustrations in Appendix B:

196vb. De eclipsi solis…: (On the nature of the eclipse of the sun) Pink rays descend from the heavens in which the sun is visible. The rays make contact with a sea of fire (?) below.

Note: I think, these particular rays are meant to represent the corona, visible during full solar eclipse.

Both sun and light are represented this way in other miniatures in the same section of the book:

This stylized depiction of the Sun was probably conventional and wide-spread. A quick search over at the British Library database gave these:
1. ; 2. ; 3.
1. The Northern French Miscellany (MS Additional 11639), f. 517. Circa 1280.
2. Roman d’Alexandre (MS Harley 4979), f. 61. Circa 1300-1325.
3. Bible Historiale of John the Good (MS Royal 19 D II), f. 4v. Circa 1350.

For the rays Ms. Gatewood gives the following precedent, depicting God moving matter on the second day of сreation:

Psalter-Hours of Yolande de Soisson (Morgan Library MS M 729), f. 264v. Amiens, France. Circa 1290.

15-th century

Phenomenon: downburst
Depiction type: painting
Depiction date: circa 1470
References: [Davies 1959]; [Borsi 1998] pages 44-45

[Davies 1959]
page 2

The sky above St George in the Lanckoronski picture may seem puzzling. A whirl of cloud makes a hole in the heavens, where no figure is shown. But the hole is on a line with St George’s lance; and I think that it must indicate celestial aid, very desirable in such a combat.

The Golden Legend is inexplicit about this. According to Greek versions of the story, St George prayed for a favourable sign before beginning the fight; and a voice from heaven answered . A text corresponding in many ways with the Greek versions is known in Latin, but with a major omission; for there, following on St George’s prayer, the dragon came forth.

It may therefore be that the texts available in Western Europe were no more than suggestive of divine intervention; yet there was clearly a pictorial tradition, God (or the Finger of God) being frequently shown. [14] Sometimes the divine influence is seen merely as rays; more like the Lanckoronski picture in what is seen [is a painting] at Os de Balaguer, where there is a sort of hole in the sky with clouds around, rays, and apparently no figure. [17]

I look on this area of the picture as a skyscape, but chosen (I do not doubt) to indicate a miracle

Comparison may be made with the Scenes from Monastic Legends, sometimes ascribed to Uccello, in the Accademia at Florence.

the seraphic Vision is indeed included, yet the miracle is associated with a disturbance of Nature. The Vision itself is in a patch of blue sky; outside this small area there is storm, including two circles of cloud, across one of which a personified wind blasts, and the trees in the landscape below are bent over by the wind. The stigmatized St Francis is shown framed in a rainbow, which must be thought of as connected with this storm; so the atmospheric disturbance and the miracle are clearly linked. The picture at Florence may therefore be considered related to the St George in iconographical expression. It is true that the circles of cloud at Florence are not holes in the sky as here, the Occasion of the storm there being depicted; but painters may well have been chary of showing the Stigmatization without its Source, whereas the iconography of St George’s combat was less precisely established.

along with textual examples given in [Gayà 2011], this argument gives more weight to the [Hoinka 2005] “tornado as a sign of god’s intervention” reconstruction for a Charles V tapestry

[Borsi 1998]
page 45

… the saint seems to be driven by the tornado behind him and this implies that Paolo considered the miracle a natural phenomenon which he accurately described as Leonardo would have done. In the background the forest is obscured by clouds foreboding a tempest, depicted in a rather unusual way for the time.

The National Gallery

In the sky, a storm is gathering. The eye of the storm lines up with Saint George’s lance, suggesting that divine intervention has helped him to victory.

Paolo Uccello
“Saint George and the Dragon”
Date made: about 1470
Medium and support: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 55.6 x 74.2 cm

the vortex-shaped structure bares strong resemblance to the spiral cloud in [Bohun 1671] (see below)

16-th century

Phenomenon: downburst
Depiction type: drawing
Depiction date: circa 1517-1518
References: [Gedzelman 1990]

[Gedzelman 1990] — the whole paper is about this drawing + related drawings and notes

Evidence from the drawings, experiments, and writings of Leonardo da Vinci are presented to demonstrate that da Vinci recognized and, possibly, discovered the downburst and understood its associated airflow.

page 1

Toward the end of his life, Leonardo da Vinci executed a series of 11 drawings called Deluge or Visions of the End of the World, one of which is shown in figure 1.

… now at the Royal Library, Windsor, England …

Fig. 1. Deluge by Leonardo da Vinci (c. 1515). This is one of 11 scenes, most of which contain definite downbursts showing vortex-ring structure. (Drawing No, 12380. by kind permission from the Royal Library, Windsor.)

pages 1-2

Describing drawing 12 665, Leonardo wrote:

Into the depth of some valley may have fallen the fragments of a mountain damming up the swollen waters of its river; which having already burst its banks, will rush on in monstrous waves; and the greatest will strike upon and destroy the walls of the cities and farm houses in the valley. Then the ruins of the high buildings in these cities will throw up a great dust, rising up in shape like smoke or wreathed clouds against the falling rain.

page 2

in figure 1, da Vinci depicted a downburst pouring out of the base of a cumulus or cumulonimbus so forcefully that it toppled jointed cliffs, causing huge boulders to fall into a swollen river, sending out wavws that spread radially outward across the land, similar to waves riding up a beach. The downburst, and each of the surges spreading out along the ground, have an unmistakable vortex-ring structure (shown in figure 2) and bear an almost uncanny resemblance to recent photographs taken at the edge of downbursts (figure 3), rendered visible by picking up dust. (See also Fig. 2.7 from Fujita [1985]. Fig. 2.10 from Fujita [1986]. Caracena et al. [1989].)

pages 6-7

Nevertheless, the prevalence of downbursts, and their associated flow fields, have not been documented until quite recently, It was only in the aftermath of the crash of Eastern Airlines Flight 66 at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City on 24 June 1975, during a thunderstorm, that Fujita (1976) identified and defined downbursts as features of some thunderstorms and other convective clouds, showing their danger to aviation. Several more years elapsed before Fernando Caracena (1982) hypothesized that the flow field of a downburst spreading out along the ground resembles that of a spreading vortex ring (Fujita and Caracena 1978; Fujita 1985; Fujita 1986).

1) Royal Collection’s site says the series consists of 10 drawings.
2) Online references seem to indicate that 12665 is the cited notes sheet and not a drawing.

The Drawings of Leonardo da Vinci in the Royal Collection :: Deluges and apocalypses

A deluge
Leonardo da Vinci
Probably acquired by Charles II; Royal Collection by 1690
Pen and black ink with wash
16.2 x 20.3 cm
RL 12380

Other drawings from the series:

(zoomable versions available at the Royal Collection)
(2do: as with the main one, stitch and upload here the max zoom versions)

Phenomenon: waterspout
Depiction type: woodcut
Depiction date: 1520
References: [Seitz 1520]; [Carion 1522]; [Jack 1997] pages 69-70, 105, LoF; [Dixon 2003] pages 298, 300-301

[Jack 1997]
page 69

Equally grave implications are made in the pamphlet issued anonymously by Alexander Seitz in 1520. The title illusiration of Ain Warnung des Sündtfluss der erschrocklichen wasser Des xxiiij jars has two sections, both of which graphicaily depict the dangers presented by the celestial alignment (Fig. 32). Below, the land has been almost completely submerged by flood. A single building drifts in the tides, a few people struggle for survival, waiting for the ship to rescue them. To the left, a sea-demon rears its head fiom the depths of the water, threatening those who survive as well as the vessel that wuld save them. The sky illustrates the calamitous weather: a comet shines to the right, and a dove swoops towards the ship, no doubt an allusio to Noah’s Arc. In the upper level of the image, a variety of symbols are represented: brilliant heavenly bodies surrounded by auras, a church, four rainbows, two of whicg end in three fiery spheres, and finally, the seven-headed beast of the Apocalypse.

page 70

The image of the flood included in Seitz’s practica is a copy of the title illusiration of a pamphlet issued by Johm Carion in 1522 (Fig. 33).

page 105

Publishers primarily commissioned images for the works produced by their shop, and ofien they reused older images, already in their possession, or bought from other printers. This practice could account for the duplication of the image found in Alexander Seitz’s pamphlet of 1520, and Johann Carion’s of 1522, both published by Erhard Oeglin in Augsburg.

list of figures

Figure 32. Anonymous, title page, Alexander Seitz, Ain Warnung des Sündtfluss oder erschrockenlichen wassers Des xxiiij. jars…, Augsburg, Erhard Oeglin Erben, 1520. Munich, Staatsbibliothek

Figure 33. Anonymous, title page, Johann Carion, Prognosticatio und Erklerung der grossen Wesserung…, Augsburg, Erhard Oeglin Erben, 1522. Munich, Staatsbibliothek

[Dixon 2003]
{{while discussing Flood by Bosch}}
pages 298, 300

Awareness of the first destruction of the world by water was renewed in Bosch’s day, when astrologers, scanning the heavens for clues to the day of the Apocalypse, saw portents of doom. The German prognosticators Johannes Stoeffler and Jacob Pflaum, in their 1499 Almanach (Almanach nova) predicted a second massive flood, scheduled to inundate the earth in February 1524. They based their claim on the belief that, at that time, sixteen conjunctions of all the major planets would occur in the watery sign of Pisces.

pages 300-301

198. The Flood, from Alexander Seitz, Ein Warnung des Sündtfluss, Augsburg, 1520

Stoeffler’s and Pflaum’s Almanach was printed many times and translated into several languages in the decades before 1524. In all, nearlt 60 authors wrote over 160 treatises commenting on their prediction. The title page on one tract, A Warning of the Flood (Ein Warnung des Sündtfluss), printed in 1520, shows a scene similar to Bosch’s, whough crude by comparison (198), of the ark floating in a sea choked with corpses.

The people in the water look nothing like corpses to me. I’d say they are trying to get aboard the ship. So would [Jack 1997].

Tornado place: mount Sinai
Tornado date and time: unknown
Depiction type: tryptich (paintings)
Depiction date: circa 1530
References: [Gedzelman 1991] page 4; [Harbison 1995] page 149

[Gedzelman 1991]
page 4

The earliest, albeit rather unsuccessful, attempt at a whirlwind is Lucas van Leyden’s Building of the Golden Calf (before 1533, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam).

[Harbison 1995]
page 149

Sometimes in the late 1520s, the Dutch prodigy Lucas van Leyden painted a small triptych (only about three feet [0.9 m] tall) showing the Adoration of the Golden Calf (FIG. 105). This work incorporates a dramatic background landscape with the romantically detailed Israelite camp in the foreground. The tiny figure of Moses, gone up on Mt. Sinai to receive God’s commandments, appears both on a Patinir-like promotory in the midst of a whirlwind and again directly below, as he and Aaron approach the Israelite camp.


Artist: Lucas van Leyden (Leiden c. 1494 – Leiden 1533)
Title: Triptych with the dance around the golden calf
Inventory no.: SK-A-3841
Date: c. 1530
Materials: Oil on panel
Size: 93.5 x 66.9 cm (centre panel); 91.7 x 30.2 cm (left wing); 91.8 x 30.2 cm (right wing)

Tornado place: near Montserrat mountain, Spain (probably, next to a small village of Molins de Rei)
Tornado date and time: unknown
Depiction type: tapestry
Depiction date: 1549-1551, based on 1546-1550 cartoon (hasn’t survived), based on 1535 sketches (?)
References: [Hoinka 2005]; [Crerand 2008] pages 2-4; [Gayà 2011] page 2

[Hoinka 2005] — the whole paper is about the tapestry and the tornado
page 3

in 1535 Charles V undertook a “holy crusade,” as it was termed by the emperor, against Barbarossa in Tunis

In spring 1535 the emperor ordered the painter Jan Cornelisz Vermeyen to join the emperor’s army in order to work as an artist during the military campaign in Tunis, which began later in the year. The painter made sketches and paintings during this campaign that he used later to produce cartoons of large size between 1546 and 1550. In 1548 the carpet manufacturer Willem de Pannemaker was entrusted by the emperor’s sister Mary with the production of tapestries following these cartoons. In 1554 the series of tapestries “Conquest of Tunis” were successfully finished

In art history a “cartoon” is a full-sized prepatory sketch for a fresco, tapestry, mosaic, etc.

A tornado above the Iberian Peninsula is the striking feature in the center of the first tapestry of the “Conquest of Tunis” series (Fig. 2). This tapestry, begun in May 1549, was reviewed and approved by the Brussels guild of tapestry weavers in spring 1551.

page 4

FIG. 2. First tapestry of the “Conquest of Tunis” series woven by the carpet manufacturer Willem de Pannemaker between 1549 and 1551: “The Map of the Mediterranean Basin.” The indicated sections are enlarged in Figs. 3 and 4. The caption in Spanish at the top of the tapestry reads (from Horn 1989) “Wishing to overcome the infidel armies of the Turk and the warrior (Barbarossa) who, obeying the orders of Suleiman, raises cruel war against the realms of Spain, Ceasar, Charles the fifth of that name, gathers together with the blessings of Heaven the armies and fleets of Spain and Italy to threaten the African troops. Not blocking delay while time and the hour proceed, he energetically hastens to his ships and his loyal companions” (courtesy of Patrimonio Nacional, Madrid).

The isolated mountain on the tapestry is Montserrat, which is at a distance of about 50 km west of Barcelona. This means that the entire Iberian Peninsula, which measures more than 800 km both in the zonal and meridional direction, is geographically concentrated in the area of Barcelona and its closer environment. The presence of Charles V in Barcelona and his visit to the Montserrat monastery before the embarkation of the Spanish fleet toward Tunis provide a reason for this concentration.

pages 4-5

Figure 3 depicts an enlarged part of the tapestry that is shown in Fig. 2, where a tornado can be seen close to Montserrat leaving a cloud and touch-
ing the ground. The cloud resembles a fair-weather cumulus rather than a dark cumulonimbus. The funnel narrows with decreasing height and is very slim where it touches the ground. Clearly, Vermeyen must have seen at least once a funnel cloud, which might have impressed him by its strange and elegant shape. This might have led him to concentrate exclusively on the funnel detail and, therefore, he combined the slender funnel with fair-weather clouds.

page 5

To sum up, with the exception of the sandstorm, the depicted weather features do not show a documented event, as is the case of the tornado that is observed at a defined place and time given in Fig. 1.

page 6

the tornado beneath the cloud points downward like a finger to an ensemble of houses close to Montserrat. Behind and toward the left of this village a ridge can be seen that rises toward the left (Fig. 3) and ends finally in a small hill (Fig. 2). Comparison with a modern map suggests that the hill depicts Tibidabo Mountain (512 m), located to the west of Barcelona, and that the village might be the present-day village of Molins de Rei.

It is not clear if the fingerlike tornado was drawn simply to emphasize the Montserrat area or if it is pointing to the small village of Molins de Rei. Nevertheless, it is convincing that the tornado expresses emblematically God’s blessing the crusade against Islam. This is in agreement with Cooper (1978), who pointed out that whirlwinds and tornadoes were regarded as a manifestation of energy in nature, rising or descending from a center of power associated with God. The funnel, thus, becomes a vehicle for divinity. Similarly, Cirlot (1988) corroborates this because symbolically “everything that occurs in heaven or descends therefrom, has a sacred quality about it.”

page 7

The tapestries of the “Conquest of Tunis” series are large, with a mean height of about 4 m and a width of 7–12 m. Few rooms would have been large enough to allow for the entire series to hang at once because it covered a wall of more than a 100-m length.

Normally, such huge tapestries were hung on the outside walls of buildings.

The tapestries accompanied the emperor in all of his travels throughout Europe, and when he retired in Yuste, he brought the tapestries with him. Ever since, they have remained in Spain.

the tapestries are valued in today’s currency at 30–40 million Euro

page 8

The original series consisted of 12 cartoons and tapestries; today, 10 of each still exist. The first scene of the “Conquest of Tunis” series has survived only in tapestry form. The cartoons are stored in the Vienna Museum of Art History (Kunsthistorisches Museum). The tapestries can be found in the Palacio Real in Madrid, and an inferior replica is exhibited in the Ral Alcázar of Seville. Another series of tapestries using the painted prototypes of Vermeyen was done during the years 1712–21 by Jodocus de Vos in Brussels. These are stored today in the Vienna Museum of Art History. Images of the original series of tapestries are reproduced in Seipel (2000).

Seipel, W., 2000: Der Kriegszug Kaiser Karl V gegen Tunis: Kartons und Tapisserien (The Crusade of the Emperor Charles V against Tunis: Cartoons and Tapestries). Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, 139 pp.

Do the sketches still exist, and if so, where are they?
Are the sketches published?
Are the cartoons published?
Are the Viennese tapestries published?
Are there sketches of the sandstorm or the rain?
How thoroughly are the cartoons based on the sketches?
How thoroughly do the tapestries match the cartoons?
Is there a tornado on the Viennese tapestries based on the same cartoons?
Are there any other cases of tornado being used as a good omen?
Were any tornadoes around Monserrat recorded?

[Crerand 2008]
pages 2-4

In a recent article in American Meteorological Society, Klaus P. Hoinka and Manuel de Castro discuss the first depiction of a tornado in Western art. The tornado appears on a tapestry designed by the painter Jan Cornelisz Vermeyen and commissioned by Emperor Charles V to commemorate his crusade against the Ottoman Empire in the early 1500s.

Hoinka and de Castro believe was Vermeyen’s attempt to express “emblematically God’s blessing the crusade against Islam.” They posit further that “This [interpretation] is in agreement with Cooper (1978), who pointed out that whirlwinds and tornadoes were regarded as a manifestation of energy, rising or descending from a center of power associated with God. The funnel, thus, becomes a vehicle for divinity”. This notion of the tornado as a vehicle for divinity seems rational from a sixteenth-century worldview and certainly worthy of artistic effort given the hierophanic nature of the spectacle.

The religious philosopher Mircea Eliade in The Sacred and the Profane comments on the frequency of the celestial as an archetype and hermeneutical system in world religions:

This divine work always preserves its quality of transparency, that is, it spontaneously reveals the many aspects of the sacred. The sky directly, “naturally,” reveals the infinite distance, the transcendence of the deity. (…) The cosmos as a whole is an organism at once real, living, and sacred; it simultaneously reveals the modalities of being and sacrality. Ontophany and heirophany meet.

Eliade defines “ontophany” as a “manifestation of a plenitude of being”, and it is not hard to see how looking at the continuous fabric of sky could evoke both such a thought of the completeness of existence and a revelation of the sacred. He goes on to enumerate the variety of world religions that speak of their chief deity in celestial terms: “on high,” “Dweller in the Sky,” “Owner of the Sky” and tendency to create storm gods. He elaborates: “the celestial god is a person, not a uranian epiphany. But he lives in the sky and is manifested in meteorological phenomena — thunder, lightning, storm, meteors, and so on”. The tornado could be added to the list. Its characteristics and shape certainly place it in the more hierophanic phenomenon of the sky, for what better metaphor for a tornado than the finger of God, that appendage that links the celestial to the terrestrial? Moreover, that sense of completeness exists in the image of the cyclone as well. The tornado is all-encompassing in that it contains the basic elements of life within its cloud: earth, wind, fire, water are all present. Its power is resolute to thwart the greatest human-built structures. If heirophany and ontophany meet in the sky, the tornado could be the exact point of intersection.

[Gayà 2011]
page 2

In some of the ancient cases, the “news” is reported by a chronicler who lived many years (or centuries) after the event. For this reason, the text may include many magical references, myths, or a rare circumstance, natural or otherwise, that the event is ascribed to. In this sense, many tornadic events (stormy whirl) are related to battles, and the action of the tornado is a “necessary condition” for deciding the outcome.

the first case is found in the General History of Spain written in Latin by Juan de Mariana in 1592. Mariana (1601) describes one of the Punic battles close to the River Ebro (circa 205 B. C.) and the presence of a snake that “demolished everything in its path with a swirling mass of water that kept on coming”

Other events are similarly framed.

In 711, when the Arabs were invading the Iberian Peninsula, another violent whirl foreboded the outcome of the battle lost by the Christians (Corral, circa 1430).

The Christian reconquest was prone to mythologize battles, and the people involved. The Orientalist and historian Simonet (circa 1860) tells a story as fantastic as it was crucial to the outcome of the battle in which Mansur dies in 1002.

In the sixteenth century, the battles for domination of the Western Mediterranean were depicted in the tapestries that were used by Charles V as explanatory or propagandistic murals of the conquest of Tunis; and Hoinka and Castro (2005) showed a tapestry which portrays a tornado around the Montserrat Monastery, close to Barcelona.

[Davies 1959] convincingly argues that Uccello’s “Saint George and the Dragon” uses a tornado-like (downburst-like?) cloud as a sign of God’s help (see details above)

Tornado place: Augsburg, Germany
Tornado date and time: 1587, July 1, between 12:00 AM and 1:00 PM
Depiction type: broadsheet illustrated by a woodcut
Depiction date: 1587
References: [Hellman 1899]; [Wegener 1917] chapters 3, 4, 11; [Leighly 1974] page 4; [Hoinka 2005] pages 2, 3

[Wegener 1917] {{ in German }}
chapter 3 page 48

* A9. 1587, Juli 1. 12 – 1 mittags. Augsburg. Hellmann, Neudrucke von Schriften und Karten über Meteorologie u. Erdmagnetismus, Nr. 12: Wetterprognosen und Wetterberichte des XV Und XVI Jahrhunderts. Berlin 1899.

chapter 11 page 137

Insbesondere scheinen die trichterartigen und vielleicht noch mehr die trompetenartigen Formen anzudeuten daß die starke Erweiterung des oberen Teiles bereits das Ende des Wirbels darstellt. Eins der zahlreichen Beispiele solcher sich nach oben stark erweiternden Tromben ist diejenige von Augsburg vom Jahre 1587 (A9), welche nach einem von Hellmann neu herausgegebenen Einblattdruck in Fig. 67 reproduziert ist; sie dürfte zugleich die älteste deutsche Trombenabbildung darstellen. {{ strong widening towards the parent cloud; seems to indicate tornado’s towards its end }}

page 138

Schröckliche newe Zeytung auß Augspurg, so man an dem Himmel gesehen, vnd aygendtlich vernommen hat. Wie solliches mit etlich Hundert Menschen, zu Probieren vnd beweysen ist. 2. Julio Anno 1587. {{ several hundreds saw and heard }}

Anno 1587, den 2 Julij, zwischen 12 vnd 1 Uhr, nach mittag, Hat sich jnn der Lufft ein grosses vngehewres Gewülckh zusammen gehauffet, gleichsam als ob ein schweres Wetter, mit Hagel, Donner, vnd Plitz anziehen vnd sich herfür thon wolte, Inn sollichem begibt sich augenscheinlich, das sieh gantz schewlich vnd schrecklich, gegen Mitternacht, ein grewlicher Wolckh, geformiert wie ein schwantz eines grossen Drachen, oder Lindwurms, (Wie er dann hie in diser Figur sichtbarlich abgemahlt, oder entworöen ist.) hat sehen lassen. Wellicher jetzt auff die Rechte, bald au£f die Lincke seyten sich gekrümmet, vnd gewunden, Ja sich zu letzt, vnden herab verkleinert, gantz scharpff vnnd spitzig gemaehet hat, Ist also nahend bey einer halben stund lang gestanden, vnd hernach allgemach verschwunden. [Es folgt eine geistliche Ermahnung,] zu Augspurg, bey Hanns Schulthes, dem Jüngern, Dockenmacher vor Barfüsser Thor. {{ Old German? ; dragon or serpent like; hail, thunder}}

[Leighly 1974]
page 4

The best of the older illustrations Wegener cites is his remaining one, in fact the oldest: it represents a tornado observed at Augsburg on July 2, 1597. The record of this storm is a contemporary broadsheet illustrated by a woodcut, which was handsomely reproduced in facsimile by Gustav Hellmann in 1899. [10] It shows an entirely plausible tornado funnel, hanging from a cloud cover, against the background of the city.

[10] “Schröckliche newe Zeytung auss Augspurg …” in Gustav Hellmann, “Wetterprognosen und Wetterberichte des XV. und XVI. Jahrhunderts,” Neudrucke von Schriften und Karten über Meteorologie und Erdmagnetismus, No. 12 (Berlin: A. Asher & Co., 1899). Wegener reproduces the illustration in his Wind- und Wasserhosen as Fig. 68, p. 227.

[Hoinka 2005]
page 2

Wegener (1917) identified the illustration of a tornado of 1587 as being the first tornado drawing ever done in Germany, and he assumed that it was probably the first worldwide (Fig. 1).

page 3

FIG. 1. Image of a tornado that was observed and drawn in 1587 (from Wegener 1917). The image caption explains that this tornado was observed in Augsburg, Germany, on 2 Jul 1587, between 12:00 A.M. and 1:00 P.M., and was accompanied by heavy weather, hail, thunder, and flashes. The tornado is described as a threatening cloud, formed like a large dragon’s tail, moving around for more than half an hour and finally sharpening its lower end.

Full page:

17-th century

Depiction type: woodcut illustration in children’s picture book
Depiction date: 1658
References: [Comenius 1658]; [Comenius 1887] page 10; [Setvák 2003]; [Dobrovolný 2003] pages 2, 3

[Comenius 1887]
editor’s preface

In this edition the cuts are unusually clear copies of the copper-plates fo the first edition of 1658, from which we have also taken Latin text. The text for the English translation is from the English edition of 1727, in which for the first time the English words were so arranged as to stand opposite their Latin equivalents.

page 10

Aura, 1. // spirat leniter. // Ventus, 2. // flat valide. // Procella, 3. // sternit Arbores. // Turbo, 4. // agit se in gyrum. // Ventus subterraneus, 5. // excitat Terrae motum. // Terrae motus facit // Labes (& ruinas.) 6.

A cool Air, 1. // breatheth gently. // The Wind, 2. // bloweth strongly. // A Storm, 3. // throweth down Trees. // A Whirl-wind, 4. // turneth it self in a round compass. // A Wind under Ground, 5. // causeth an Earthquake. // An Earthquake causeth gaping of the Earth, // (and falls of Houses.) 6.

[Setvák 2003]
page 6

In the second half of the 17th century the first known “Czech” drawing of a tornado was made (Fig.1). It comes from Orbis Sensualium Pictus (Comenius 1658) – a language textbook for children, accompanied by pictures, republished many times in various languages. Comenius, originally a Moravian priest and teacher, wrote this well-known textbook during his exile stay in Amsterdam. Therefore, this drawing is only loosely connected with Czech lands. It is not known whether he witnessed this tornado (or rather, a waterspout) himself during his long pilgrimage through many parts of Europe, or whether he used some older drawing published elsewhere.

page 12

Figure 1. Drawing of a tornado from Orbis Sensualium Pictus (Comenius, 1658). This reproduction comes from a 1685 re-print from Levoča (Slovakia) 4-language version (Latin, German, Hungarian and Czech).

[Dobrovolný 2003]
page 2

Descriptive documentary evidence of extreme weather events is a significant, and for the pre-instrumental period, often the only source of information about the occurrence of extremes, including cases of strong winds (Fig.1).

page 3

Fig. 1. A picture of a tornado of ‘‘Orbis Pictus’’ from 1685 written by J. A. Komenský.

Other versions:
a) ; b) ; c); d) ; e); f) ; g) ; h)

a) London, 1659 [Comenius 1659] page 14. Text as above.
b) 1685 re-print from Levoča 4-language version. Taken from [Setvák 2003].
c) A cleaner version of b). Found here. Source edition unknown.
d) A bigger binary version of b). Taken from [Dobrovolný 2003]. Probably, same source.
e) Stockholm, 1775 [Comenius 1775] page 12. Text in Latin, French and Swedish (including extras). I find this version to be a total failure; the artist clearly knew nothing about tornadoes.
f) London, 1777 (text as above) [Comenius 1777] page 10. Similar to e), but mirrored + some minor differences in details.
g) Vienna, 1780 [Comenies 1780] page 10. Cleaner version of h).
h) Vienna, 1781 [Comenius 1781] pages 10-11. Accompanying German text. This is an intriguing one: some striking similarities to Brotze’s drawing of 1795 tornado, published in [Leighly 1974]; note, he discussed inconsistency between description (conic form) and depiction (bulge + tail).

Phenomenon: downburst
Depiction type: (?) woodcut
Depiction date: 1671
References: [Bohun 1671] page 19; [Gedzelman 1990] page 6; [Janković 2000] frontispiece

[Gedzelman 1990]
page 6

R. Bohun included a section on descending ediies from clouds in his A Discourse Concerning the Origine and Properties of Wind (1671), showing one drawing (p. 17) that closely resembled a downburst, complete with leading vortex. (This figure was reproduced as figure 3 in McCarthy and Wilson 1984.)

[Janković 2000]
list of figures

FRONTISPIECE: A rare seventeenth-century representation of a dramatic appearance of a tornado (whirlwind) in Ralph Bohun, A Discourse Concerning the Origins and Properties of Wind, 1671. — page ii

the vortex-shaped structure bares strong resemblance to the spiral cloud in Uccello’s “Saint George and the Dragon” (see above)

18-th century

Status: damaged, partial
Tornado place: Hague, Netherlands
Tornado date: July 1751
Depiction type: illustration
Depiction date: 1757
References: [Dryfhout 1757]; [Leighly 1974] pages 4, 7, 13

[Dryfhout 1757] — the whole paper is about the tornado
in Dutch
two plates: 5 stages of the tornado + diagram of a fully-formed tornado

[Leighly 1974]
page 4

Wegener missed seeing an even better illustration, a series of small drawings representing several stages in the growth and decay of a tornado observed near The Hague in July 1751. In accuracy of observation this series surpasses all of the older drawings he cites. [11]

[11] J. F. Dryfhout, “Nauuwkeurige beschouwinge van een hoos, benevens een ondersoek, hoe dezelve geboren worden en werken …”, Verhandelingen uitgegeven door de Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen te Haarlem, 1757, 3:321-377, Plts. I, II.

page 7

One might also doubt the exaggeratedly mammate forms of the parent cloud; but J. F. Dryfhout … describes the parent cloud of his tornado as “composed of a great number of smaller cloudlets, resembling round balls,” which exhibited complicated motions among themselves, moving into and out of the body of the cloud.

… in Dryfhout’s case this interpretation of the violent agitation seen in the clouds associated with tornadoes rested on a conception of clouds as bodies distinct from the air in which they float, not merely as parts of the atmosphere rendered visible by the local condensation of water vapor in the air.

page 13

One of Dryfhout’s drawings, Figure V of his Plate I, is an even better match. It shows the final stage of his tornado of July 1751, when it was drifting out to sea. Its slender column no longer extended to the water surface, and it was no longer straight but was bent into serpentine curves: “having lost its upright posture, [it] was blown upward toward the south, in the manner of a fluttering ribbon”; then it vanished completely. Dryfhout’s description might be applied with little change to Brotze’s drawing.

Tornado place: Woldegk, Mecklenburg, Germany
Tornado date: 29 June 1764
Depiction type: engraving on a pamphlet
Depiction date: 1765
References: [Genzmer 1765]; [Wegener 1917] chapters 3, 4, 8, 11, 12, 13, 14; [Leighly 1974] page 4

[Genzmer 1765] — the whole pamhplet is about the tornado
in German
cover: tornado
2 illustrations: damaged trees, map

Tafel I. Erste Platte, die einige Zeichnungen einzeler gemishandleter Bäume enthält.

Tafel II. Ein Theil des Stargardischen Kreises im Herzogth. Mecklenb. worauf der Strich des Orcans vom 29 ten Jun. 1764 verzeichnet ist.

[Leighly 1974]
page 4

A14 of Wegener’s list, observed in Mecklenburg on June 29, 1764, was represented, he says, by “a poor picture of the tornado printed on the title page” of the pamphlet in which it was described.

[Wegener 1917] {{ in German }}
chapter 3 page 48

* A14. 1764, Juni 29. 1 – 2 p. Woldegk´, Mecklenburg (an der Grenze der Uckermark). G. B. Genzmer, Umständliche und zuverlässige Beschreibung des Orcans, welcher den 29. Juni 1764 einen Strich von etlichen Meilen im Stargardischen Kreise des Herzogthums Mecklenburg gewaltig verwüstet hat etc. Berlin und Stettin (Nicolai) 1765 [? unleserlich]. Mit einem schlechten, auf dem Titelblatt gedruckten Bild der Windhose u. 2 Tafeln, von denen die eine Baumschäden, die andere eine Karte der Trombenspur zeigt. {{ bad image of tornado on the cover + illustration of tree damage + map }}

chapter 4 pages 57, 61
chapter 8 page 93
chapter 11 pages 146-147
chapter 12 page 155
chapetr 13 page 159
chapter 14 pages 171, 174

Figure 78

Fig. 78. Streufeld der Windhose von Woldegk in Mecklenburg [A14]

Phenomenon: downburst
Depiction type: silk screen
Depiction date: circa 1770
References: [Gedzelman 1990] pages 5-6; [Gedzelman 1993] chapter 9 pages 26, 40

[Gedzelman 1990]
pages 5-6

A Japanese silkscreen, c. 1770, by Soga Shohaku entitled, the Chinese immortal Ch’en Nan Causing a Rainstorm (see cover this issue), shows a descending current in a vortex closely resembling a microburst. It is possible that earlier examples of such downburst vortices may exist in Japanese or Chinese art.

[Gedzelman 1993]
chapter 9 page 26

When the downburst is rain soaked, even the small amount of lifting at the front of the vortex cools the air to the point of condensation. Ragged cloud fragments then trace the unforgettable rolling motion at the base of the arc cloud that surely inspired … Soga Shohaku in his silkscreen, The Chinese Immortal, Ch`en Nan Causing a Rainstorm (see Fig. 9-37).

page 40

Soga Shohaku (1730-1781) painted The Chinese Immortal, Ch`en Nan Causing a Rainstorm (Fig. 9-36). Here the ancient Chinese vortices are transformed into a surprisingly modern guise. The scene depicts the flow of air just beneath the edge of violent thunderstorm. A gusty wind from beneath the cloud blows down a few helpless mortals trying to stand with Ch`en Nan while a giant vortex, the thunderstorm downburst strikes the ground and curls outward as if it were the tongue of a dragon.

Fig. 9-36. Soga Shohaku. The Chinese Immortal, Ch’en Nan Causing a Rainstorm. C. 1770. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Fenollosia Collection.

Phenomenon: waterspout
Waterspout place: off Cape Stephens, New Zealand
Waterspout date and time: 1773, May 17
Depiction type: painting
Depiction date: 1776
References: [Gedzelman 1989] page 14; [Gedzelman 1991] page 4; [Gedzelman 1993] chapter 8 pages 10-17

[Gedzelman 1989]
page 14

It was in the stormy context of the sublime that the single example of a new cloud form painted between about 1690 and 1815 was executed. William Hodges, official painter of Captain Cook’s second voyage, observed an outbreak of waterspouts off Cape Stephens, New Zealand, sketched them on the spot and then incorporated them in a painting after he returned home. His rendition of the clouds in A Storm and Waterspouts off Cape Stephens, New Zealand (1774, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich) was determined more by the concept of the sublime than by the actual observation. Nevertheless, the painting captures most classical features of waterspouts (except for the hollow core which was reported in the journals), and shows them in various stages of development.

Hodges’ paintings were characteristic of the times in several respects. In the eighteenth century, people began to travel far more widely. The Alps, which had earlier been considered only a barrier, were beginning to be recognized for their beauty. Artists began representing these and other exotic places. Surely, they saw clouds they never had seen before, but while they felt compelled to render clouds in conformity with current notions of the sublime, they fared very poorly when it came to representing the forms. Improved artistic representation of cloud forms had to await the changing attitudes and the work of Luke Howard in the next century.

[Gedzelman 1991]
page 4

The first convincing waterspout painting is William Hodges’s Storm and Waterspouts Off Cape Stephens, New Zealand (1776, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich). This work represents a dramatized but meteorologically faithful rendition of an actual outbreak of waterspouts that Hodges observed while serving as official painter on Captain James Cook’s second voyage.

[Gedzelman 1993] — a very detailed account
chapter 8, page 10

And it was on Captain Cook’s Second Voyage that a promising young landscape artist named William Hodges was employed to document all the marvelous sights.

page 11

Once Cook turned north, he aimed straight for New Zealand where the next meteorological adventure and proof of his scientific spirit was to take place. On 17 May, 1773, a day after a cold front passed,

at 4 o’clock in the afternoon being then 3 leagues to the westward of Cape Stephens, having a gentle gale at west by south and clear weather. The wind at once flattened to a calm and the sky became suddenly obscured by dark dense clouds, which occasioned us to clew up all our sails and presently after six water spouts were seen….the sixth…passed within fifty yards of our stern without our feeling any of its effects. The diameter of the base of this spout I judged to be about fifty or sixty feet, that is the sea within this space was much agitated and foamed up to a great height….I have been told that the firing of a gun will dissipate them and I am now sorry I did not try the experiment as we were near enough and had a gun ready for the purpose, but as soon as the danger was past I thought no more about it, being too attentive in viewing these extraordinary meteors.

17 May 1773 Journals of Captain Cook p 141-142.

Hodges also viewed these `extraordinary meteors’ attentively and, three years later, after his return from the Voyage, produced the first painting of waterspouts, A Storm and Waterspouts off Cape Stephens, New Zealand (Fig. 8-6). This meteorological document shows four spouts in various stages of their life cycle. In the left foreground we only see the very bright turbulent base of a spout that is violently agitating the sea surface and sucking spray upward into the black cloud above. Further in the distance one of the spouts is threatening the Resolution while flashes of lightning streak across the sky. Joe Golden’s photograph of a waterspout near the Florida Keys (Fig. 8-7) testifies to the documentary quality of Hodges’ work.

pages 11-12

George Forster, the naturalist on board, also carefully observed the structure and evolution of the waterspouts and wrote a description any meteorologist would be proud of.

[a lengthy description]

Journal of George Forster. Quoted from The Art of Captain Cook’s Voyages. R. Joppien and B. Smith. 1985

page 12

Fig. 8-6. William Hodges. A Storm and Waterspouts off Cape Stephens, New Zealand. 1776. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

page 14

For some reason, possibly the long delay between sighting and painting, Hodges did not include the hollow core in his painting.

Hodges did include land in A Storm and Waterspouts off Cape Stephens, and showed the Resolution tossed about near the rugged coastline by one of the hyperbolic, `classical’ storms of eighteenth century art. But Hodges’ rendition does not fit the facts since the spouts were actually encountered a considerable distance offshore and since they scarcely perturbed the ship. In fact, Isabel Stuebe has suggested that the right foreground of A Storm and Waterspouts is modeled after Richard Wilson’s Ceyx and Alcyone. What made Hodges alter the facts and follow an earlier model? It was the eighteenth century dogma that a painting suffered without a classical motif. Manufacture a healthy storm and the recipe was complete, for the confident eighteenth century had plumbed the depths of nature and knew no fear.

Eighteenth century man now felt almost able to compete with God. Hodges may have had this idea in mind when he superimposed two events that actually occurred a day apart. The burning Hippah (Maori fortress) atop the cliff at right was set ablaze by the men of the Adventure as a welcome to the Resolution, but not until the latter had reached Queen Charlotte Sound, the day after the spouts were sighted. Rudiger Joppien and Bernard Smith have suggested that Hodges used the burning Hippah to symbolize the fact that the lights of man (as a result of the advances of science and technology) could finally compete with the lightning of nature or God.

page 17

So Hodges’ Storm and Waterspouts, with its cloud effects, took its place in a long line of 18th century storm scenes. Fortunately, Hodges had received too strong a dose of reality during the Voyage to confine his skies and clouds to mere effects.

Hodges’ generation did acknowledge his efforts, but apparently more for their supposedly imaginative effects than for any documentary value. Later in life he wrote to a friend that

I have sometimes secretly quarreled with the world for allowing me the character of a man of genius in the display of fanciful representations than that of accurate observations.

Once the cultural world realized how literal Hodges had been, his name was erased from the ranks of creative artists and he was downgraded to the status of `mere’ illustrator. Recently, however, his reputation has been resurrected, for we are again acknowledging the importance of nature as a primary sourcebook for artists. And so, we are now finding that the dusty works of Hodges lie among the hitherto buried roots of nineteenth century Romanticism.

Phenomenon: waterspouts
Waterspout date: 12 April 1780
Depiction date: 1787
References: [Michaud 1787]; [Peltier 1840] pages 140, 167, 227, 232, 234, 246-251; [Wegener 1917] chapters 3, 5, 6, 9, 11, 12; [Leighly 1974] page 4; [Lugt 1989] pages 7-8

[Michaud 1787]
in French
the whole article is about the waterspouts outbreak in Nice
illustrations as a separate plate

[Peltier 1840]
in French
detailed analysis of Michaud’s accaunt and interpretations

list of figures

Figure 2. Trombe vue par Michaud; depression au centre.

Figure 18. 1. Trombe rompue par un coup de vent, vue par Michaud.

Figure 19. 3. Pied de trombe (a); le meme (b) a’allongeantpourne pas quitter la mer, vu par Michaud.

Figure 20. 3. Autre trombe, vue par Michaud.

as evident from Wegener, the figures differ somewhat
in all the scans I found all images are damages and this one is not included

[Wegener 1917] {{ in German }}
chapter 3 page 35

* 39. 1780, April 12. 3–4 p. Nizza. Michaud, Roziers Journal de Physique, t. XXX, p. 284, 1787. Nach Peltier. [Mit einer von Peltier wohl nicht ganz verändert reproduzierten instruktiven Abbildung.] {{ Peltier probably didn’t change the image much }}

chapter 5 pages 65, 66
chapter 6 page 78
chapter 9 page 107
chapter 11 pages 126, 134-135, 136, 144
chapter 12 page 151, 155

Figure 63

[Leighly 1974]
page 4

Waterspouts are described and illustrated in the older literature more abundantly than tornadoes. The best published illustrations of waterspouts older than the drawing reproduced here as Figure 1 are those accompanying descriptions of spouts observed from shore at Nice by one Michaud on April 12, 1780, and on January 6 and March 10, 1789. [12]

[12] Michaud, “Observation d’une trombe de mer faite a Nice de Provence en 1780,” Observations sur la Physique… (ed. [Jean] Rozier), 1787, 30:284-287, Plt. III … I am unable to find the forename of this Michaud; he is identified in the list of correspondents of the Turin Academy as “ingenieur au port de Nice.”

[Lugt 1989]
page 7

6. Vortex breakdown in the midsection of the funnel

Michaud’s drawing of 1780 in figure 9 depicts a bubble-type vortex breakdown, a very rare example indeed.

pages 7-8

… Michaud’s … pictures reveal similarity to figure 4 for the container flow. Wegener (1917) points to this similarity between figures 4 and 9 when he refers to experiments performed by Vettin and Weyher (figure 5), and he notes that the funnel is interrupted; this is a reference to the situation depicted in figure 7.

page 8

Fig. 9. Michaud’s drawing from 1780 of a waterspout in the Mediterranean with bubble (Wegener 1917)

1. ; 2. ;
3. ; 4.
Phenomenon: waterspouts
Waterspout date: 6 January and 19 March 1789
Depiction date: 1790
References: [Michaud 1790]; [Peltier 1840] pages 140, 167, 227, 232, 234, 246-251; [Wegener 1917] chapters 3, 5, 6, 11, 12; [Leighly 1974] page 4, 14; [Lugt 1989] page 9

[Michaud 1790]
in French
4 illustrations as a separate plate

[Peltier 1840]
in French
detailed analysis of Michaud’s accaunt and interpretations

list of figures

Figure 2. Trombe vue par Michaud; depression au centre.

Figure 18. 1. Trombe rompue par un coup de vent, vue par Michaud.

Figure 19. 3. Pied de trombe (a); le meme (b) a’allongeantpourne pas quitter la mer, vu par Michaud.

Figure 20. 3. Autre trombe, vue par Michaud.

as evident from Wegener, the figures differ somewhat
in all the scans I found all images are damages and only this one of the lot is included:

[Wegener 1917] {{ in German }}
chapter 3 page 36

* 47. 1789, Januar 6. 10 – 1 mittags. Meer bei Nizza. Michaud, Beobachtungen einiger Wasserhosen, die am 6. Januar und am 19. März 1789 zu Nizza gesehen wurden. (Aus den Mem. de l´Acad. de Turin, t. 6.) Gilberts Ann. de. Phys. 7, 49, 1801. [Mit Abbildungen, die in der Gilbertschen Reproduktion vermutlich nicht unverändert geblieben sind.] {{ in German edition illustration is likely to have changed }}

* 48. 1789, März 19. 11 40 a. Meer bei Nizza. Michaud, Beobachtungen einiger Wasserhosen, die am 6. Januar und am 19. März zu Nizza gesehen wurden. (Aus den Mem. de l´Acad. de Turin, t. 6.) Gilberts Ann. de. Phys. 7, 49, 1801. [Mit Abbildungen, die in der Gilbertschen Reproduktion vermutlich nicht unverändert geblieben sind.] {{ in German edition illustration is likely to have changed }}

chapter 5 pages 64, 66, 69, 73
chapter 6 pages 74, 77, 78, 82
chapter 11 page 132
chapter 12 page 152

Figure 59

Michauds Zeichnung zweier Wasserhosen bei Nizza [48]; die rechte zeigt die Doppelröhre.

Figure 81

Kugelsförminger Wasserstaubfuß einer blinden Wasserhose bein Nizza [47] nach Michaud.

[Leighly 1974]
page 4

Waterspouts are described and illustrated in the older literature more abundantly than tornadoes. The best published illustrations of waterspouts older than the drawing reproduced here as Figure 1 are those accompanying descriptions of spouts observed from shore at Nice by one Michaud on April 12, 1780, and on January 6 and March 10, 1789. [12]

[12] “Observations sur les trombes de mer vues de Nice en 1789, le 6 janvier et le 19 mars,” Memoires de l’Acadimie Royale des Sciences de Turin, 1790, 4, Memoires presentes a I’Academie: 3-22, Plt. XI. The latter paper was published in German translation as “Beobachtungen einiger Wasserhosen die am 6ten Januar und am 19ten Marz 1789 zu Nizza gesehen wurden,” Annalen der Physik, 1801, 7:49-69, Plts. I, II The re-engraved plates in this edition are smaller than the original ones published at Turin, and each is divided into two figures. I am unable to find the forename of this Michaud; he is identified in the list of correspondents of the Turin Academy as “ingenieur au port de Nice.” {{ 2do: find and add the german edition }}

page 14

There are resemblances between Figure 1 and one of Michaud’s excellent drawings, d of his Figure 4, which represents a waterspout observed offshore at Nice on March 19, 1789. Michaud’s drawing shows a pendulous bulge below which a slender tube reaches down to the surface of the water. At this stage the spout was weakening, and it disappeared soon afterward. [23]

[23] Wegener reproduces this drawing from the German edition of Michaud’s paper; it appears on the right side of Fig. 59, p. 218, of his Wind- und Wasserhosen.

[Lugt 1989]
page 9

Fig 12. Michaud’s drawing from 1789 of a concave (left) and a convex (right) funnel of a waterspout in the Mediterranean (Wegener 1917).

7. Vertex breakdown near the parent cloud

Michaud’s drawing of 1789 in figure 12 displays the common concave funnel shape to the left and the convex one, which may indicate vortex breakdown near the parent cloud to the right (as seen from outside the vortex). The convex part of the funnel is called “collar” or “bulge”.

19-th century

Funnel present: NO
Depiction type: painting
Depiction date: (?) 1831 or 1835
References: [Parry 1988] pages 114-115, 136, (?) etc.; [Gedzelman 1991] page 4

[Gedzelman 1991]
page 4

Tornadoes are far more damaging but were not painted until the present [= 20th] century. Thomas Cole painted A Tornado (1835, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.), but it shows little more than a black cloud extending to the ground.

[Parry 1988]
page 114

A Tornado in the Wilderness. 1831. Oil on Canvas. … In the collection of the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Museum Purchase, Gallery Fund, 1877.

page 136

A Tornado in the Wilderness … was taken as a proof that “scenes of Italy had not obliterated American nature from Cole’s thoughts, or banished it from his canvas. This is a tornado of our own clime, and every native must acknowledge the truth of the very story told by the shattered tree of the foreground, and the agitated tenants of the distant forest.”

Phenomena: fire whirls
Depiction type: sketch
Depiction date: 1851
References: [Olmsted 1851]; [Reye 1872] intro

[Olmsted 1851]
The paper discusses several fire whirls in Alabama.

[Reye 1872]
in German
introduction pages 9-15
chapter 2 page 26
chapter 3 page 42, 47
chapter 6 page 79
illustration is reproduced quite faithfully:

>> Olmsted’s Wirbelwinde über einem brennenden Rohrgebüsch

1.a) ; 1.b) ; 1.c) ; 1.d)
Phenomena: waterspouts
Waterspout date: 10 June 1858
Depiction date: 1858
References: [vom Rath 1858]; [Reye 1872] chapters 1, 2; [Wegener 1917] chapters 1, 3, 5, 8, 11, 12; [Lugt 1989] pages 6, 7

[vom Rath 1858]
in German
the whole article is about the waterspout
illustrations + map

[Reye 1872] {{ in German }}
chapter 1 page 22

Wenn eine Landhose eine Wasserfläche trifft, so wird sie zu einer Wasserhose, und umgekehrt. Dieses ist sehr oft und namentlich auch durch die auffallend zahlreichen Wettersäulen nachgewiesen worden, welche man im Rheinthale von Coblenz bis Bonn beobachtet hat. Wir besitzen von Nöggerath, Mohr und G. vom Rath ausführliche Schilderungen von vier verschiedenen Tromben jener Gegend, von denen drei den Rhein und eine die Mosel überschritten. Als ein besonders interessantes Beispiel möge die Wettersäule von Königswinter dienen, welche G. vom Rath [26]) mit grosser Sorgfalt beschrieben hat. {{ when waterspout goes onto land, it becomes tornado; many examples of that in Rhine valley; especially interesting is the one described by vom Rath }}

page 23

In Bonn hatte man acht Tage lang vergebens sich nach Regen gesehnt, als endlich am 10. Juni 1858 um die Mittagszeit im Süden schwere Gewitterwolken aufstiegen, die sich in der Ferne unter Blitz und Donner entluden. Dort im Süden, bei Honnef oberhalb Königswinter, bemerkte man um dieselbe Zeit (1 Uhr 20 Minuten etwa) zuerst eine 2000 Fuss hohe Staubsäule, unten von aufgewirbelten Staub- und Erdmassen umgeben, die bald den Rheinspiegel erreichte (s. Taf. 1 a), Da erhob sich auf einer wohl 20 Schritt weiten Kreislinie schäumend das Wasser, in Kämmen und Strahlen emporspringend gleich einer Krone, deren weisse Schaumstrahlen 20 bis 30 Fuss hoch aufschossen. Die innere Kreisfläche war zu einem Schilde aufgewölbt und mit Schaum bedeckt, einer flachen Insel vergleichbar. Beim Fortschreiten stieg das Wasser höher empor, und in der Nähe des linken Ufers war die Krone schon in eine 40 bis 50 Fuss hohe Wassersäule verwandelt. Bald zeigte sich auch vor graublauen Wetterwolken eine kegelförmige Wolkenspitze wie ein glänzender Degen am Himmel, und verlängerte sich sichtbar nach unten. Sie war gegen die Spitze der rasch aufsteigenden Staubsäule gerichtet, in welche sich mittlerweile auf dem linken Rheinufer (bei Mehlem) die Wasserhose wieder verwandelt hatte. Diese Sandsäule überragte den Drachenfels weit an Höhe, maass also über 850 Fuss. Die Gewalt der Trombe wuchs, sie nahm eine erschreckende Gestalt an, so dass die Schiffe ihre Anker fallen Hessen und selbst in Nieder-Dollendorf, 25 bis 30 Minuten entfernt, einzelne Bewohner aus ihren Wohnungen in’s Freie eilten. In starkem Bogen schritt sie wieder dem Rheine zu, und mit vergösserter Gewalt sprang der Wirbel abermals auf das Wasser. Dieses schien weiss schäumend hoch aufzusieden, und plötzlich erhob sich aus dem wogenden Schaume eine Masse von Wasser und Dunst fast senkrecht in drei bis fünf Strahlen, deren mittlerer sich der weissen, degenförmigen Wolke näherte (Tafel 2 und Tafel 1, b). Beide Spitzen trafen zusammen, „und so wurde das Wasser aus dem Strome in die Wolke gezogen” (Tafel 1, c). Auf einer Untiefe des Rheines vereinigten sich die seitlichen Strahlen mit der Hauptsäule, die nun wie ein Riesen-Obelisk auf dem Rheine schwebte (Tafel 1, d). Als sie bei Rhöndorf wieder das rechte Ufer erreichte, fielen die schwereren Wassertheile wie Fetzen herunter von der aufsteigenden Schaummasse, welcher dunkler Staub und Sand folgte, durch eine horizontale Linie scharf von ihr geschieden. Indess die Schaummasse gänzlich in den Wolken verschwand, näherte sich die Wettersäule dem Drachenfels. Ihre Gewalt nahm ab und ein wolkenbruchartig herabstürzender, mit Hagel gemischter Regen entzog sie endlich den Blicken des Beobachters. Vom Drachenfels aus jedoch sah man, wie die Säule vom Boden sich abhob, und die aufgewirbelten Stoffe in den oberen, trichterförmig gestalteten Theil der Trombe aufgezogen wurden. Die ganze Erscheinung dauerte etwa 35 Minuten; die durchlaufene Bahn war 1300 Ruthen lang und demnach mit einer Geschwindigkeit von etwa 450 Fuss (140 Meter) per Minute durchlaufen worden.

page 24

Mehrere unbefangene Beobachter der Wasserkrone haben an derselben eine Drehung mit der Sonne wahrgenommen. An beiden Ufern war die Bahn des Fusses meistens durch niedergedrückte Saaten bezeichnet. Ihre Breite mochte fünfzig Schritt betragen, wuchs aber auf das Doppelte und Dreifache, wo vor Mehlem die Curve beschrieben wurde. Nur in der Mitte lagen die Halme genau mit dem Zuge, an den Seiten mehr der Mitte zugewandt. Hieraus und aus der schildförmigen Erhebung im Innern der Wasserkrone glaubt vom Rath auf eine Luftverdünnung im Innern des Zuges schliessen zu dürfen. Ausserhalb des grossen Bogens am linken Ufer lagen die Saaten in mehreren hundert Schritt Entfernung (also ausserhalb der eigentlichen Bahn) gerade gegen den Mittelpunkt des Halbkreises gerichtet. Es musste sich die Luft von allen Seiten senkrecht gegen den umkehrenden Strom bewegt haben. Kornblumen und Halme wurden, ohne Zweifel in grosser Höhe, bis über den Rhein getragen und fielen hernach mit dem Regen auf ein Schiff herab.

chapter 2 page 29

Bei der Wettersäule von Königswinter wurde die degenförmige Wolkenspitze erst wahrgenommen, als die Staubsäule sich über dem Rheinstrome in eine Wasserhose verwandelt hatte; dann aber verlängerte sie sich ungeachtet des starken nach aufwärts gerichteten Luftstromes und ohne Zweifel durch Nebelbildung der aufsteigenden Wasserdünste sichtbar nach unten hin. Der verdichtete Dampf muss bei dieser Wettersäule, welcher sehr deutlich der Character eines aufwärts gerichteten Luftstromes aufgeprägt ist, zum Theil bis in eisige Luftregionen emporgerissen worden sein, denn dem nachfolgenden, wolkenbruchartigen Regen waren Hagelkörner beigemischt. {{ description and explanation of clouds }}

[Wegener 1917]
chapter 1 pages 17-18

excerpts from vom Rath
illustrations + map

chapter 3 page 40

* 115. 1858, Juni 10. 1 ½ p. Königswinter bei Bonn. G. Vom Rath, Über die Wettersäule, welche am 10. Juni 1858 oberhalb Königswinter zwei Male über den Rhein ging. Pogg. Ann. d. Phys. u. Chem. 104, 631, 1858. [Mit 6 Abbildungen.] [v. Hann gibt im Abschnitt „Meteorologie“ von Müller-Pouillets Lehrbuch der Physik eine gute Abbildung der von der Trombe hochgerissenen Wassersäule mit der Unterschrift „Wasserhose von Königswinter“; die Herkunft des im zwölften Kapitel wiedergegebenen Bildes ist aber nicht bekannt. Siehe auch die ähnliche, aber schlechtere Figur in Müllers Lehrb. d. Kosm. Physik, 5. Aufl., von Peters, Braunschweig 1894, S. 715. {{ similar illustrations in Müller’s and Müller-Pouillet’s textbooks; 2do: find}}

chapter 5 pages 65, 66
chapter 8 page 102
chapter 11 page 131
chapter 12 pages 148, 155, 156, 157, 158

Fig. 82

[Lugt 1989]
page 6

5. Vortex breakdown near the ground
The drowned vortex jump of figure 2b was studied first by Maxworthy (1972) in dust devils, and photographs support his findings (Idso 1974). For other whirlwinds, the drawing of a waterspout near Königswinter, Germany, from 1858 in Reye’s book (1880) is an early example (figure 8).

page 7

Fig. 8. Drawing of a waterspout near Königswinter, Germany, from 1858 (Reye 1880). {{ = 1.c) }}

Tornado place: Mexico City
Tornado date and time: unknown
Depiction type: painting
Depiction date: 1885
References: [Velasco Fuentes 2010] page 7

[Velasco Fuentes 2010]
page 7

Fig. 5. Tempestad en los llanos de Aragón, oil painting by Cleofas Almanza, 1885 (©d.r. Museo Nacional de Arte/Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes y Liter atura, México)

In 1885 Cleofas Almanza, a student at the San Carlos Academy, painted Tempestad en los Llanos de Aragón (Fig. 5), which shows a tornado touching down at Sierra de Guadalupe in northern Mexico City. The subject was assigned to him by his teacher José María Velasco, one of Mexico’s greatest landscape painters and an active member of the Mexican Society of Natural History. Velasco lived in Villa de Guadalupe from 1874 until his death in 1912 and carefully observed the storms striking the area (Báez Macías 1998). His handwritten notes have been preserved, so we can see how closely Almanza’s painting follows Velasco’s instructions:

In the plains of Hacienda de Aragon a storm is observed to break. A great spout has formed. A man, carrying his fishing instruments, and his wife, carrying a child on her back, hastily run away. A canoe is abandoned on the bank of the small lake that occupies those paddocks, as the man has no time to take it home. The hills of El Chiquihuite and La Corona, which are part of the mountain range of Villa de Guadalupe, are seen in the distance. Great masses of dust are risen almost to the clouds and the trees bend under the mighty impetus of the hurricane (see Báez Macías 1998).

Almanza’s painting, which is now exhibited at the National Museum of Art in Mexico City, beautifully shows that tornadoes occur in the Basin of Mexico. Furthermore, it shows a tornado in the same area where, three centuries earlier, the tornado of Tlatelolco was observed to start (Sahagún 1989).

Tornado place: Madrid
Tornado date and time: 1886, May 12
Depiction type: picture published by a newspaper
Depiction date: 1886, May 25
References: [Gayà 2007a]; [Gayà 2007b]

[Gayà 2007a] — the whole paper is about this tornado (several maps and many images of damaged buildings are included)
page 1

On 12th of May 1886, Madrid suffered the most devastating tornado in its history. Considering the number of people who died in the tornado, it is the worst tornadic event recorded in our database in the last two centuries in Spain.

page 2

Plate 1. Picture published by La Ilustración Católica of May 25, 1886 showing an idealized image of the tornado.

page 3

Unfortunately the only available image of the ‘agent’ is not clear enough. Plate 1 shows an engraving with the ‘cyclone generation’ over Madrid. But it looks much more a stretched or elongated funnel or a roll cloud than a well developed tornado. The observer’s point of view seems more idealized than real. In fact no debris is shown when the ‘funnel’ is over one of the most destroyed parts of the city of Madrid. The text of La Ilustración Católica explained ‘how the cloud explodes and the funnel (tromba de aire) goes down until it crashed against the ground’.

[Gayà 2007b]

a different version of [Gayà 2007a]
more maps and images of desctruction
in Spanish
as far as I could understand, the district depicted in the image is Carabanchel

page 3

En la imagen de la Ilustración Católica del día 25 (figura 2) se observa la nube en rollo más que propiamente un tornado (o como dice el pie original “Formación y marcha de un ciclón”) y lo ubica precisamente sobre Carabanchel, viéndose Madrid al fondo.

Fig. 2. Grabado de la Ilustración Católica del 25 de mayo en el que se muestra la “Formación y marcha de un ciclón”

some of the original maps and images can be found in [Arcimis 1886], [Nogués 1886]

Images of tornado’s effects:
a) ; b) ; c) ; d) ; e) ; f) ; g) ; h) ; i) ; j) ; k) ; l) ; m) ; n) ; o) ; p) ; q) ; r)

a) Two damaged buildings, one of them also in p).
[Gayà 2007a] page 4: “… damage to San Jerónimo church and El Casón del Buen Retiro (Plate 2)”
[Gayà 2007a] page 5: “Plate 2. Engraving (partially) from La Ilustración Española y Americana of June 22, 1886. These buildings were seriously damaged and some later modification can be seen nowadays.”
[Gayà 2007a] page 5: “Plate 2 shows a well constructed Palace built by the Spanish crown in the 17th century that in 1886 was being partially remodelled. The columns were made in one piece. Four of them fell and broke and they were rebuilt with modular columns that are visible today.”
[Gayà 2007b] page 11: “Fig. 15. Grabado de La Ilustración Española y Americana del 22 de mayo de 1886 mostrando El Casón del Buen Retiro y la Iglesia de los Jerónimos. Al fondo el Observatorio Astronómico.” {{ in the background, Astronomical Observatory }}

b) A damaged building, same as m).
[Gayà 2007a] page 5: “… Plate 3 showed a charitable dining place that was damaged so extensively that it was never rebuilt.”
[Gayà 2007a] page 5: “Plate 3. Engraving from La Ilustración Española y Americana of June 22, 1886 showing the charitable dining place destroyed by the tornado.”
[Gayà 2007b] page 8: “Fig. 10. La Tienda Asilo existente en la plaza frente al Hospital vista por la Ilustración Española y Americana del 22 de mayo de 1886.”

c) A collapsed building, same as j), k), l).
[Gayà 2007a] pages 5-6: “The new wash-house (ancient laundry) structure was built 5 years before it collapsed on tens of people. The open windows allowed the wind to come inside and the movement forced to the metallic roof and the structure fell after the wood columns collapsed. Eighteen people died and its scene (Plate 4) was described in all newspapers. El Estandarte of 14th May included a dramatic sight: ‘No money was found in the clothes of the people who died, only a woman with a handful of chickpea in her pocket’.”
[Gayà 2007a] page 6: “Plate 4. The new wash-house structure was collapsed over tens of people. Eighteen people died (La Ilustración Española y Americana of June 22, 1886).”

d) A collapsed building.
[Gayà 2007a] page 6: “A lot of damage was produced in houses with deficient structures or materials. That can be seen in Plate 5 where the buildings were constructed with adobe, mixing stones, and covered by a roof of tiles almost directly over the wood beams.”
[Gayà 2007a] page 6: “Plate 5. Partial view of the images published in La Hormiga de Oro showing damaged inn building in the roads close to Madrid.”

e) A collapsed building, damaged carriage, two men and a horse injured.
[Gayà 2007a] page 7: “Plate 6. The new graphic journalism enhance the tragic perception of its readers including human figures (Las Ocurrencias of 14 of May, 1886).”

f, g) Damaged palace and gardens.
[Gayà 2007b] page 4: “En la finca de Vista Alegre del arruinado, y entonces recientemente fallecido (en 1883), empresario Marqués de Salamanca, afectó notablemente en el jardín y en las edificaciones (figura 3) que, al estar ya abandonadas, ya no recuperarían su uso anterior. La bella finca que fuera anteriormente un lugar de recreo de la Reina Isabel II, se convirtió en 1888 en Colegio de Huérfanos de la Unión (Palacio Viejo) y en 1889 en Asilo de Inválidos del Trabajo (Palacio Nuevo). No fue el tornado lo que determinara este cambio de uso, pero sí que parece probable que lo acelerara.” {{ gardens of Vistalegre palace damaged; converted to the College of Orphans of the Union (Old Palace) in 1888 and to Labour Invalids Asylum (New Palace) in 1889; tornado wasn’t the only cause, but it certainly accelerated the change }}
[Gayà 2007b] page 4: “Fig. 3. El palacio de Vistalegre y sus jardines vistos por La Ilustración Española y Americana del 22 de mayo de 1886.”
[Gayà 2007b] page 4: “Fig. 4. El palacio de Vistalegre visto por Las Ocurrencias de 16 de mayo de 1886.”
Note: f) shows no damage to the buildings, whereas in g) it’s substantial

h), i) Several damaged buildings.
[Gayà 2007b] page 5: “La Colonia “El Porvenir del Artesano” también fue notablemente afectada. Este nuevo asentamiento entre Carabanchel y Madrid se había iniciado escasos años antes y sus construcciones eran sencillas y relativamente sólidas. Las imágenes de La Ilustración, Revista Hipanoamericana (figuras 5 y 6), presentan los destrozos en las edificaciones. A pesar de la espectacularidad de los daños, otros elementos existentes resistieron el embate del viento, entre otros los flexibles árboles jóvenes.” {{ colony “Future of the Craft”; between Carabanchel and Madrid; billdings simple, but robust; buildings were damaged, but young trees resisted }}
[Gayà 2007b] page 5: “Fig. 5. La colonia de El Porvenir del Artesano visto por la Hormiga de Oro y, también, por La Ilustración Hispano-Americana del 30 de mayo de 1886″
[Gayà 2007b] page 5: “Fig. 6. Chalet de la colonia de El Porvenir del Artesano vista por La Ilustración Hispano-Americana del 30 de mayo de 1886″ {{ villa in the colony }}

j), k), l) A building collapsed on people, same as c).
[Gayà 2007b] page 6: “En el Lavadero Imperial [2], que se había construido recientemente, hubo la mayor tragedia, puesto que la techumbre cedió sobre las personas que allí se encontraban, especialmente mujeres y niños.” {{ roof collapsed on people, including women and children }}
[Gayà 2007b] page 6: “[2] El Lavadero Imperial era propiedad de Francisco Andrés Octavio, uno de los arquitectos que diseñó la Gran Vía de Madrid.” {{ owned by Francisco Andres Octavio, one of the architects of the Gran Via street in Madrid }}
[Gayà 2007b] page 6: “Las imágenes que recogió la prensa son bien expresivas (figuras 7, 8 y 9). Y las consecuencias terribles. Sin embargo, la tipología constructiva que se muestra permite advertir que estas estructuras son relativamente fáciles de remover. Es decir, un pequeño desplazamiento de la techumbre (vigas de madera y cubiertas de teja machiembrada) es capaz de forzar su desmoronamiento en cadena.” {{ unstable structure: tiled roof + wooden beams + dovetail joints }}
[Gayà 2007b] page 6: “Fig. 7. Grabado de La Ilustración Ibérica del 5 junio de 1886: El Lavadero Imperial”
[Gayà 2007b] page 7: “Fig. 8. El Lavadero Imperial visto por La Ilustración de España del 22 de mayo de 1886.”
[Gayà 2007b] page 7: “Fig. 9. El grabado de La Ilustración Católica del 22 de mayo muestra el dramatismo de la escena en El Lavadero Imperial.”

m) A damaged building, same as b).
[Gayà 2007b] page 8: “Cuando el tornado llega a las proximidades de Atocha, la estación resiste bien (al menos no se citan destrozos importantes) y también resistió muy bien el paso del tornado la sólida y sobria construcción del Hospital (hoy Museo Reina Sofía). De hecho, fue una de las instalaciones que recibió más heridos para su atención. Justo en la explanada que comparte con la calle Drumen, existía la Tienda-Asilo, que era de muy reciente inauguración. La figura 10 muestra el estado en que quedó. “Al desencadenarse había 150 personas dentro de la tercera Tienda-Asilo” (p. ej. El Estandarte del 13) de las que resultaron numerosos heridos, pero ninguna de las personas falleció. Meses más tarde, Sepúlveda (1887) modificó la misma imagen anterior para aumentar el dramatismo de la escena introduciendo figuras humanas que rescataban los heridos en la Tienda-Asilo que acababa de ser destruida. Aunque se dispusieron recursos para su reconstrucción, esta instalación no se reedificó. Es ésta una de las más llamativas consecuencias de modificación del urbanismo por el tornado.” {{ hospital withstood tornado well; now it’s Queen Sofia Museum; the hospital received many of the injured; in front of it, charity diner was damaged; 150 people were inside, many wounded; Sepúlveda (1887) added human rescuers for dramatism; the diner was never rebuilt }}
[Gayà 2007b] page 8: “Fig. 11. La misma imagen que en la fig. 10, modificada por Sepúlveda para mostrar más dramatismo. ” {{ citation: Sepúlveda, E. (1887), La Vida en Madrid en 1886, Imprenta de Fernando Fé, Madrid (1887) 515 pp. }}

n) Damaged trees in Botanic Garden.
[Gayà 2007b] page 9: “Fig. 12. El jardín Botánico visto desde el Sur publicado en La Ilustración Española y Americana. Al fondo el convento de los Jerónimos que también sufrió el tornado.” {{ in background, monastery of San Jerónimos, also damaged; (?) same as in a) }}
[Gayà 2007b] page 9: [two passages, same as those in the English version]
[Gayà 2007a] page 5: “Not far away, the Botanic Garden was seriously damaged and Colmeiro (1886) presented to his superior a detailed list of all damage suffered in the trees, shrubs, and ‘heaters’ (greenhouses). However, the aid that was requested and all the comments that appeared in the newspapers presented a real catastrophic picture, as shown by Colmeiro (1892) some years later as the garden was recovering.”
[Gayà 2007a] page 5: “Today, some of the oldest trees … survived the event and present some of the tornado’s hits. However the scars cannot be well distinguished and only the irregular form of some trees can be assumed as a consequence of it. [One of] these trees could be ‘Los Pantalones’, a hackberry in the Botanic …”

o) Damaged trees in a park.
[Gayà 2007b] page 9: [two passages, same as those in the English version]
[Gayà 2007b] page 10: “Fig. 14. Vista del Parterre en el que se ve, al fondo, El Casón del Buen Retiro y el ahuehuete centenario (La Ilustración Española y Americana del 22 mayo 1886).” {{ ahuehuete included }}
[Gayà 2007a] page 5: “In the same way, most newspapers explained how Retiro Park was destroyed. But an engraving published by La Ilustración de España twenty days later showed a magnificent aspect of Carriages Avenue and that forces us to limit the tornado intensity and its range.”
[Gayà 2007a] page 5: “Today, some of the oldest trees … survived the event and present some of the tornado’s hits. However the scars cannot be well distinguished and only the irregular form of some trees can be assumed as a consequence of it. [One of] these trees could be … the Ahuehuete (Taxodium micronatum), the oldest tree in Madrid in the Parterre of the Retiro Garden.”

p) A damaged building, same as one of the buildings in a).
[Gayà 2007b] page 11: “El Casón del Buen Retiro estaba en obras de transformación cuando el tornado pasó por encima. Los daños fueron cuantiosos (figuras 15 y 16) y las columnas que eran de una sola pieza fueron reconstruidas pasando a ser de tres cuerpos, tal como ahora pueden verse. Asimismo, el inmueble vecino estaba siendo levantado, por lo que la apariencia de sus grandes daños son debidos a la caída de andamios y parte de los muros que se erigían. En la misma figura 15 puede verse, al fondo, el Observatorio Astronómico donde se tomaban los datos meteorológicos.” {{ appearance of great damage is partly due to scaffolding and stones from nearby building that was in construction at the time }}
[Gayà 2007b] page 11: “Fig. 16. Vista frontal del El Casón publicada en La Ilustración Hispano Americana del 30 de mayo de 1886″

q) Illustrations from pages 1, 4, 5, 11, 12, 15 of La Ilustración Española y Americana of May 22, 1886. La Biblioteca Virtual del Español (works in IE)
Some of the described above included.
Many extras.

r) Illustration from page 12 of La Ilustración Española y Americana of May 30, 1886. La Biblioteca Virtual del Español (works in IE)

Tornado place: Teplice, Chech Republic
Tornado date and time: 1887, May 16
Depiction type: sketches published in a newspaper
Depiction date: 1887
References: [Braun 1887]; [Wegener 1917] chapters 2, 3, 5, 11; [Lacinová 2007] pages 2, 4

[Braun 1887] {{in German}}
the whole article is about the tornado
the 5 sketches are included

[Wegener 1917] {{in German}}
chapter 2 pages 22-24

extensive excerpts from Braun’s paper

Fig. 5. Die horizontale Trombe von Teplitz.

chapter 3 page 43

* 159. 1887, Mai 16. 5 p. Teplitz, Böhmen. Met. Ztschr. 1887, S. 266. [Mit 5 Skizzen, welche eine horizontale Trombe zeigen.]

chapter 5 page 65
chapter 11 pages 125, 128, 140, 146

[Lacinová 2007]
page 2

Fig. 1. Sketches of tornado in Teplice.

page 4

2.5. May 16th 1887, Teplice (Wegener,1917)
This case was mentioned in Wegener’s collection but then it was discarded by our meteorologists. It is listed here to confirm its authenticity. In this instance people from every location of the town were able to observe a “strange phenomenon” prior to the onset of a storm. They saw a white thin horizontal stripe in the sky. One of its ends lowered to the ground and subsequently the tornado destroyed a wooden house. The next day an article in a local newspaper described the phenomenon and included sketches of the tornado, reproduced in Fig.1.

Depiction type: painting
Depiction date: 1899
References: [Prown 1987] pages 13-14; [Gedzelman 1991] page 4; [Junker 1998] page 122; [Isham 2004] pages (?)-376

[Prown 1987]
pages 13-14

In Homer’s later paintings, darker in mood, there is less expression of the optimism of community and more emphasis on the loneliness of the human condition. And when a human connection is not available, as is the condition of the black in The Gulf Stream (fig. 10), all is lost. The Gulf Stream echoes the composition of the earlier Breezing Up: a boat points diagonally toward the left, but here no wind fills the sail; the mast is snapped and there is no sail; no rudder controls the direction of the boat, the rudder is gone; and there is no community, even of boys. Nature is in control here: water, waterspout, and sharks. The lack of eye contact that had simply injected a disconcerting and only slightly ominous note in Homer’s early paintings (High Tide, Waiting for Dad) becomes here a disastrous missed vision as a boat on the horizon sails in one direction while the lone figure looks off in the other. This is a grim conclusion to imagery that began optimistically with Breezing Up in the mid 1870s and continued more seriously but still affirmatively with The Fog Warning (fig. 11) in the mid 1880s.

10. The Gulf Stream, 1899. Oil on canvas, 28 1/8 x 49 1/8 in. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Fund, 1906

11. The Fog Warning, 1885. Oil on canvas, 30 x 48 in. Museum of FineArts, Boston, Otis Norcross Fund

[Gedzelman 1991]
page 4

Another waterspout appears in the distance in Winslow Homer’s Gulf Stream (1899, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York).

[Junker 1998]
page 122

Winslow Homer included a waterspout in his famous painting The Gulf Stream (1899; Metropolian Museum of Art, New York), but it plays a secondary role to the other dangershe collects in that encyclopedia of fears and is far less frightening than the sharks whose gaping jaws dominate the foreground.

[Isham 2004]
page 376

… occupant a shirtless Negro, dazed but alert. Far off on the horizon is a ship under sail to the left and a waterspout to the right. This lone Negro adrift on the ocean in imminent danger has become a familiar image in seascape portfolios and is certainly one of Homer’s most often reproduced paintings.


article about the painting
img 1
img 2

Metropolitan Museum of Arts

Artist: Winslow Homer (American, Boston, Massachusetts 1836–1910 Prouts Neck, Maine)
Title: The Gulf Stream
Date: 1899
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 28 1/8 x 49 1/8 in. (71.4 x 124.8 cm)
Classification: Paintings
Credit Line: Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, Wolfe Fund, 1906
Accession Number: 06.1234
On View: Gallery 774

Winslow Homer’s tornado-themed paintings without a funnel:
a) ; b) ; c)

a) After the Hurricane, Bahamas (originally called After the Tornado), 1899, watercolor. The Art Institute of Chicago (including detailed bibliography)
b) Tornado, Bahamas, 1885, watercolor. athenaeum
c) Hurricane, Bahamas, 1898, watercolor. Metropolitan Museum of Art, athenaeum

20-th century

Tornado place: Bystřice pod Hostýnem
Tornado date and time: 1903, 15 June
Depiction type: sketches
Depiction date: 1903
References: [Papežík 1903]; [Lacinová 2007] pages 2, 3, 5

[Papežík 1903]
the whole article is about the tornado
the two sketches are included

[Lacinová 2007]
page 2

Fig. 2. Sketches by director Papežík.

page 3

Fig. 3. Sketches by director Papežík.

page 5

2.6. June 15th 1903, Bystřice pod Hostýnem (Papežík, 1903)
This was seen by the school director Papežík. From his description it seems that this was probably not a tornado but a funnel cloud. Papežík wrote a short article to the Meteorological journal that contained 2 sketches. He saw the funnel pendulous from the cloud. He observed a swirl motion in the funnel. At the end of his article he wrote an interesting note: “First I wanted to make a photo of the strange phenomenon, but I hadn’t had a film in my camera, so I only draw 2 pictures.” For his sketches see Figs. 2 and 3.

Phenomenon: waterspouts
Depiction type: grave sculpture
Depiction date: circa 1920
References: [Gayà 2011]

[Gayà 2011]
pages 2-3

Obviously this is not exclusive to ancient times. In recent times and today, this kind of relationship between art and atmospheric reality is still alive. Fig. 1 shows a modernist grave (circa 1920) in Sóller cemetery, Majorca. The wind is the divine breath or spiritual influence of celestial origin that lifts the soul to God (Chevalier and Gheerbrant, 2003). In this case, five vortices aremuchmore evident than in the Baroque representations of the uplifting of bodies or souls to heaven.

page 3

Fig. 1. Ornamentation of a grave in the cemetery of Sóller, Majorca, dated around 1920.

Depiction type: painting
Depiction date: 1929
References: [Junker 1998] pages 80, 116, 122-124, 125, 126, 127, 166, 167, 218, 220-221, 225, 227, 229

[Junker 1998]
page 116

Tornado (1929, color plate 20) contains a whirlwind like that described in the Book of Job

page 122

Curry followed Baptism in Kansas in 1929 with an even more potent conseption, Tornado (color plate 20, fig. 6), which shows a farm family and their pets scurrying into a storm shelter while a terrifying twister bears down on them. Although a better painting than Baptism in Kansas — stranger, more forceful, more original — Tornado did not receive the same degree of effusive praise in the New York press, perhaps because the novelty of Kansas subjects was already wearing thin.

According to his widow, Curry never actually saw a tornado.

page 123

One striking aspect of Tornado is the accurate rendering of the twister’s funnel. Curry may have learned of this columnar shape from a first-hand description. on 22 June 1928, Will Keller, a Kansas farmer, became the first man known to look up the funnel of a tornado, when one lifted the roof off his home:

[Keller’s description] [70]

[70] Quoted in Davidson, Twister, 90.

While Keller’s account may have helped Curry comprehend the tornado’s form, it appears, to this writer, that the artist relied for visual guidance on the many photographs taken by Ira Blackstock of a tornado that passed through Hardtner, Kansas, 2 June 1929. These were among the first pictures of a tornado to be published and the first to document a tornado’s shape clearly.

His photographs record a funnel strikingly similar in shape to that on Curry’s canvas. The storm cloud from which the twister descends has a jagged edge against clear sky that also resembles Curry’s design. [72] One photograph — showing a barn on the left, a tree on the right, and the tornado in the center — seems to have provided the general compositional framework of the painting.

[72] See Grazulis, Significant Tornados, 828, where two of Blackstock’s photographs are reproduced. Curry’s painting is particularly similar to figure 60; see Schmeckebier, Pageant, 113.

page 124

Curry’s recurring motif is a mushroom shape, which serves as a template into which he squeezes different objects — a tree, a growing corn plant, a tornado, or a figure with outstretched arms.

In his later works, the mushroom motif becomes more ominous, as in Tornado, where it is purely destructive, and Tragic Prelude, in which John Brown, with his outstretched arms, is equated with the tornado that whirls across the prairie in the distance. [76]

[76] Of Curry’s major paintings, perhaps only Line Storm makes use of a differently configured central motif, In that canvas the destructive cloud becomes more formless, like the creature in the famous 1958 horror movie The Blob. Even in this instance, however, it may not be stretching things too far to see the cloud as a deformation of the same archetypal patterns. For Curry, the form seems to have symbolized his fear of the unknown.

John Steuart Curry’s tornado-themed painting without a funnel:
a) ; b)

Line Storm
a) 1934. Oil and tempera on panel. (?) Collection of Sidney Howard, New York or Babcock Galleries, New York.
b) Lithograph on paper. Smithsonian American Art Museum

[Junker 1998]
page 125-126

Indeed, the cloud of Line Storm is very much like the one portrayed in Tornado but seen from a different angle. In Tornado we look down the edge of such a storm system, which is shown receding toward the horizon, with the left part of the sky clear and the right side darkened. The cloud in Line Storm, on the other hand, rushes toward us like an ocean wave about to crest. Although no tornado is visible, such clouds sometimes do hold tornados, which funnel down unpredictably. They can also unleash winds, rains, and hail that are fierce enough to destroy a crop and that can, in the case of hail, prove life threatening to both man and beast.

[Gedzelman 1991]
pages 4-5

Often, forked lightning flashes in the darkened skies beneath an oncoming arc cloud.

Two bolts strike the ground in John Steuart Curry’s Line Storm (1934), a classic rendition of an oncoming squall-line thunderstorm. The small, ragged attendant clouds seen overhead in the immediate foreground represent another common feature at the edges of thunderstorms and are often seen racing toward the parent cloud.

Both Millet’s Coming Storm and Curry’s Line Storm contrast the darkened sky beneath the storm with the far brighter sky near the horizon. This is a dramatic and realistic technique that many painters have used in their thunderstorm scenes to suggest the imminence of stormy weather.

Phenomenon: dust devils
Depiction type: painting
Depiction date: 1934
References: [Gedzelman 1993] chapter 11 pages 18-19

[Gedzelman 1993]
chapter 11 page 18

William C. Palmer, born in Iowa, caught the winds red handedly lifting the dust. It is a hot and windy day in Dust, Draught, and Destruction (Fig. 11-19). At least half a dozen dust devils are whirling across the landscape, like dervishes and genies in the deserts of the Arabian Nights.

pages 18-19

Dust devils are right at home in a Dust Bowl scene. They are small and intense but usually harmless whirlwinds that form on almost calm days when the ground is baked by the sun (Fig. 11-20). If the ground is wet, some of the sun’s heat is “wasted” by evaporating water and the ground does not get quite so hot. For this reason, dust devils form most readily over very dry ground. Then, the buoyant, superheated air swirls upward. If dust happens to cover the dry ground, it will be swept aloft and will fill all but the inner core of the devil, which, like all intense vortices, consists of sinking air.

page 19

In Dust, Draught and Destruction, Palmer tried to mislead us. As culpable as the dust devils seem, they did not topple the tree or the windmill and certainly did not destroy the farmhouse, for they are seldom violent. But the Plains are traversed by the dust devil’s far larger and more violent cousin, the tornado, nature’s most destructive whirlwind.

Fig. 11-19. William C. Palmer. Dust, Draught and Destruction. 1934. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

Depiction type: painting
Depiction date: 1938-1939
References: [Gedzelman 1991] page 4; [Junker 1998] pages 115-116, 124, 231, 232-233

[Gedzelman 1991]
page 4

Beginning in 1929, John Steuart Curry painted several works with tornadoes, including The Tragic Prelude (1938-1939, Kansas State Capitol, Topeka), an allegorical portrait of John Brown. Its funnel cloud hanging from a lowered cloud base is also accompanied by a tail-like appendage (called a tail cloud) extending toward the right-hand foreground, as well as by a classical ring of debris near the ground. Because the tornado often follows its tail, death and destruction appear to be approaching.

[Junker 1998]
page 116

Tragic Prelude portrays John Brown as a modern version of Michelangelo’s Moses, bringing a new and tragic dispensation to the American land.

page 124

Curry’s recurring motif is a mushroom shape, which serves as a template into which he squeezes different objects — a tree, a growing corn plant, a tornado, or a figure with outstretched arms.

In his later works, the mushroom motif becomes more ominous, as in Tornado, where it is purely destructive, and Tragic Prelude, in which John Brown, with his outstretched arms, is equated with the tornado that whirls across the prairie in the distance. [76]

[76] Of Curry’s major paintings, perhaps only Line Storm makes use of a differently configured central motif, In that canvas the destructive cloud becomes more formless, like the creature in the famous 1958 horror movie The Blob. Even in this instance, however, it may not be stretching things too far to see the cloud as a deformation of the same archetypal patterns. For Curry, the form seems to have symbolized his fear of the unknown.

page 231

… back of all the tornado and the raging prairie fire, fitting symbols of the destruction of the coming Civil War.

Bull Runnings blog

In 1937, despite the fact that his work had never been well received in Kansas, at the instigation of several powerful newspapermen Curry was commissioned to cover the statehouse walls with paintings depicting the history of the state. As work progressed, critics felt the murals (The Tragic Prelude and Kansas Pastorale) did not show the state in a favorable light, focusing on its troubled past and the difficulty of life on the prairies. The Kansas Council of Women protested “The murals do not portray the true Kansas. Rather than revealing a law-abiding progressive state, the artist has emphasized the freaks in its history – the tornadoes, and John Brown, who did not follow legal procedure.” In 1941, after the completion of the panels in the second floor hallways but before work began in the rotunda (this was to focus on the dangers of poor soil management), the state legislature ordered work halted. Curry was so outraged that he left the state never to return. He never signed the paintings, and died in 1946. Today the paintings are considered masterpieces.

In 1991, the Kansas Senate issued a resolution which officially recognized the legislature’s poor treatment of one of the state’s most famous sons. More here.

1939 litograph in the British Museum collections:

Depiction type: wall poem
Depiction date: 1993
References: [Leiden 1996] pages 27-28, 36; [Crerand 2008] page 5

[Leiden 1996] {{Dutch}}
pages 27-28

Eén muur verhaalt over een wervelwind, die in zijn kracht de woorden in een draaikolk over het vlak meeneemt. Wij kunnen de taal van de Noord-Amerikaanse Creek-indianen niet lezen, maar de vorm voert ons al mee, opgezweept door het dwingende ritme van de klanken: “Hi Yomen Kawetulke Yahola…“, waarmee Wotkoce Okisce een beeld weet op te roepen van een prairie en van natuurgeweld, een mentale ruimte waarin we dwalen. Verderop langs de Nieuwe Rijn mijmert e.e. cummings over de realiteit van de dag die de droom doodt en over de nacht waarin de sterren als gedichten flonkeren, en weer verderop klinkt het zwoele ritme van de tamtam, die het bloed opzweept en je tot dans aanzet, bloedrode letters op een zwarte ondergrond, zwarte letters op een bloedrood fond. Daar sluit Langston Hughes met zijn Dante Aficaine de rij der Amerikanen.

page 28

Wotkoce Okisce (in het Engels bekend als Louis Oliuer; 1904-1991), “Maskoke Okisce” ( = Creek fabel), Burchtsteeg/Nieuwe Rijn. De vertaling van de fabel luidt: ‘<Het kleine volk zei: ‘Tornado’s / worden veroorzaakt door slechte geesten /die de staart afikken van / de waterschildpad /en die slingert / naar beneden en / in het rond en / in het rond / snel / naar de / aar / de / d o o d s b a n g’ “. Vertaald doorJe& Kaspersma, uit: De aarde is ons vlees (Amsterdam: Uitgeoenj In de Knipscheer 1990).

page 36

Lijst van adressen van de tot 1 mei 1996 gerealiseerde gedichten:
5. Wotkoce Okisce (in het Engels bekend als Louis Oliver) Burchtsteeg / Nieuwe Rijn

[Crerand 2008]
page 5

One modern example of the tornado in Native American culture comes from a poem written by the Creek Indian poet, Louis Olive or Little Coon. The concrete poem entitled “A Creek Fable” is featured in its original language on a wall in the town of Leiden in the Netherlands. Again, Oliver links the mythic with the tornadic as well in his poem titled “Maskoke Okisce”

Roughly translated from the Dutch, the poem reads: “The little children say: the Tornado’s words come from evil spirits that the tail steals from the turtle, and after, they spin quickly round and round to the ground scare to death.”

Leiden wallpoems {{Dutch}}

Dichter: Louis Oliver (ps. Wotkoce Okisce), Verenigde Staten van Amerika, 1904 – 1991
Gedicht: Creek Fabel
Locatie: Nieuwe Rijn 23, Leiden
Sinds: 1993 (nummer 5)
Let op: Dit muurgedicht is in juni 2008 opnieuw aangebracht.

Hi yomen Kawetulke Yahola
            mekko nake makvtet
                   os po mekvna
                        pon hesaketa
                           os en ka
Het kleine volk zei:"Tornado's
            worden veroorzaakt door slechte geesten
                   die de staart afrukken van
                        de waterschildpad
                          en die slingert
                           naar beneden en
                            in het rond en
                              in het rond
                                naar de
(Uit: De Aarde is Ons Vlees: Bloemlezing uit het werk van zeventwintig Indiaanse dichters, redactie en vertaling Jelle Kaspersma, In de knipscheer, Amsterdam, 1990)

article {{Dutch}}

When was the poem written?
When was it first published?


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  1. […] striking example, currently the earliest image of a tornado-like phenomenon I know of, is Paolo Uccello’s “Saint George and the Dragon” (circa […]

    Pingback by Tornado as a sign « List of Figures — September 1, 2011 @ 6:30 am

  2. […] as possible (descriptions, references, quotes, links, related images etc.). But you can also just enjoy the pictures! Excluding the ones I’ve already posted, here is the first […]

    Pingback by Tornado galore « List of Figures — September 5, 2011 @ 6:44 am

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