A deadly storm that tore through Nepal almost two weeks ago was the country’s first ever recorded tornado, say researchers there. A team identified the extremely rare event in southeast Nepal without the aid of typical tornado-detecting instruments, instead relying on satellite images, analysis of social-media posts and a visit to the affected area.
The government says 28 people died and more than 1,100 were injured in the storm on 31 March, which also damaged about 2,600 buildings and a national park that is listed as a World Heritage Site.
The storm shifted slabs of concrete 50 metres, which requires a massive amount of power not typical of storms observed in Nepal, says Dhiraj Pradhananga, a meteorologist and president of The Small Earth Nepal, a non-governmental organization in Kathmandu. “We don’t even have a Nepali word for tornado,” he says.