Severe storms in northern Germany have left at least one person dead and caused widespread destruction.

Worst hit was the town of Bützow near the northern port of Rostock, where bricks lay scattered in the streets and cars were reportedly thrown meters into the air.

A 26-year-old man was killed in the northern port city of Hamburg when parts of a roof toppled onto his car in the downtown harbourside area, also badly injuring his pregnant girlfriend who was seated next to him.

tornado in Germany 05.05.15

While tornadoes are frequent across the plains in the United States, where up to 1,000 form every year, it is unusual for large tornadoes to form in Europe.

The swirling storm cloud is created by warm humid air rising and hitting cooler air. As the warm air rises faster, winds from different directions can cause it to rotate, leading to a funnel forming.