Learning from extreme events: Analysis of storm events in South Tyrolean Pilot Areas

Feb 13, 2024

Five years ago, around 2200 hectares of forest in the area around the Karer Pass in South Tyrol (Italy) were damaged by the storm “Vaia”. In the years that followed, around 900,000 cubic metres of damaged timber were processed and damage to roads and infrastructure was repaired.

On the 16th of August 2021 in consequence of a heavy thunderstorm over the “Pflersch” Valley, a debris flow on the torrent “Toffringbach” damaged several infrastructures and blocked the river “Pflerscherbach” leading to flooding of the neighbouring buildings.  More than 100 firefighters helped to mitigate the damage to residential and farm buildings, the power station, roads, bridges and meadows.

These two events, which took place in the South Tyrolean Pilot areas of the project X-RISK-CC, were analysed in workshops together with various stakeholders and experts. The participants included representatives of the provincial administration, such as the forestry office, the provincial road service, and the Civil Protection Agency, as well as representatives of voluntary organisations (e.g. fire brigades) and the municipalities.

Based on an event review the details of the risk management were discussed, from the weather forecast and the warning prior to the event to the immediate management of operations and the follow-up measures. Based on this, positive aspects in dealing with the respective extreme event were emphasised, but weaknesses and deficits were also identified. The X-RISK-CC project will continue to work on the insights of the workshops in the future, and measures for improvement in the risk management will be defined together with all stakeholders involved.