IATE Term of the Week: Supercell Storm


Last Wednesday a violent storm hit the Greek peninsula Halkidiki, near Thessaloníki, causing the death of seven people. Heavy rains and severe hail accompanied the storm, which produced winds of more than 100km/h.

This created a scene of chaos. Buildings were damaged, cars overturned and trees uprooted. Flying debris like chairs, bricks, and trashcans injured more than 60 people, 23 were hospitalised. The thunderstorm also prompted a power outage for 80% of the area.

The storm formed after a spell of hot weather with temperatures above 40°C. There were hardly any warning signs before the storm, and its force took residents and tourists by surprise. Eyewitnesses report that the storm only lasted 20 minutes, but people did not have time to prepare and take proper shelter.

This storm is a weather phenomenon called supercell storm and is not common in Greece, where summers are generally hot and dry. There are four types of thunderstorms: single cell, multi-cell cluster, squall line, and supercell. Supercell storms are the rarest but the most dangerous type of storms.

They have a tendency to produce severe and hazardous weather conditions, sometimes even tornadoes. The feature that distinguishes supercell storms from other types of thunderstorms is a continuous rotating updraft called mesocyclone. If the conditions match, such a storm can last several hours.

Supercell storms occur most commonly in the US, but with climate change progressing, Europe will likely face more new and extreme weather conditions like this dangerous thunderstorm type.

As the term supercell storm has not been relevant in the EU context so far, it was not yet in the IATE database. So the IATE team reacted instantly and created a new entry in IATE.


iate. https://iate.europa.eu/entry/result/3581467/en. Accessed July 16, 2019.

Greece storm: Seven killed in Halkidiki area popular with tourists. BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-48945821. Published July 11, 2019. Accessed July 16, 2019.

Konstantinidis A. At least seven killed as freak storm lashes Greek resorts. Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-greece-weather/at-least-seven-killed-as-freak-storm-lashes-greek-resorts-idUSKCN1U52Q3. Published July 11, 2019. Accessed July 16, 2019.

Service NW. Thunderstorms can come in several destructive varieties. macon. https://www.macon.com/news/article231172918.html. Accessed July 16, 2019.

US Department of Commerce, Noaa. What is a Supercell? What is a Supercell? https://www.weather.gov/ama/supercell. Published September 17, 2016. Accessed July 16, 2019.

Während der Urlaubszeit: Mindestens sechs Tote bei Unwetter in Griechenland. FAZ.NET. https://www.faz.net/aktuell/gesellschaft/ungluecke/mindestens-sechs-tote-bei-unwetter-in-griechenland-16279109.html. Published July 11, 2019. Accessed July 16, 2019.

Written by Annemarie Menger – Communication Trainee at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament (Luxembourg) and a student of the Master’s Program in Learning and Communication in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts at the University of Luxembourg. She holds a teacher’s degree in the form of the First German State Examination for Elementary Education, a BA in Cultural Basic Skills and an additional degree in Global Systems and Intercultural Competence from the University of Würzburg.