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Science Writer

In 1674, a mysterious storm devastated an entire city

In 1674, a mysterious storm devastated an entire city

BBC Earth

Image: josef.stuefer

It took barely 15 minutes. An intense and powerful – but brief – storm swept across north-west Europe one summer’s evening almost 350 years ago. It left a social and architectural imprint on the city of Utrecht that is felt to this day.

A new study offers the best explanation yet for exactly what form that devastating storm took.

The late 17th Century was a challenging time for the Netherlands. The Dutch found themselves in a war against several foreign forces, including the French and English.

The year 1672 in particular is an infamous one in Dutch history. It is known as the “Disaster Year“, because it marked an invasion of the Dutch Republic by forces from France, England and regions of what is now Germany.

“The French took all the money there was. Utrecht was left completely broke,” says Gerard van der Schrier at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute in De Bilt.

The city was left uniquely ill-prepared for a major natural disaster. Which is unfortunate, given that two years later exactly such a disaster struck. Read more on the BBC Earth website…