Powerful windstorm wreaks havoc across northwestern Europe, causes widespread disruption and flooding


A powerful windstorm, named Ciara by the UK Met Office, hit Ireland and the United Kingdom on Saturday, February 8, 2020, and parts of Northwestern Europe on Sunday, bringing very strong winds and heavy rain. Ciara caused widespread disruptions, travel chaos, and major flooding. As of Monday morning, February 10, the storm claimed at least 5 lives – 1 in the UK, 2 in Poland, 1 in Sweden and 1 in Slovenia. Ciara is the third named storm of the 2019/20 European windstorm season.

Ciara's full force was felt on Sunday, cutting off power to more than 137 000 customers in the U.K. In Hastings, crews used a helicopter and a lifeboat to save a surfer who had been missing at rough seas.

Travel has been disrupted across northwestern Europe with many airlines canceling flights, as well as several rail firms advising passengers to avoid travel in the wake of the powerful storm. Ferries also faced delays and cancelations, with drivers being warned to take safety measures.

Hundreds of flights from and to London Heathrow Airport were canceled, while a flight from Geneva, Switzerland, had to be rerouted to Lyon, France.

So far, the Cairngorm Mountains reported the highest gusts at 190 km/h (118 mph). Wales has also been hit by most powerful winds with a 150 km/h (93 mph) gust registered in Aberdaron, northwest area.

Locations from Wales into Northern England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland reported 25 to 50 mm (1 to 2 inches) rainfall totals. Britain bore the brunt of the storm with widespread flooding across the north.

In Hampshire, southern England, a 58-year-old man died after a tree fell on his car in Hampshire in the wake of the storm. According to the police, the man was driving on the A33 when the accident occurred.

More than 170 flood warnings remain in place mostly across northern England and along the southern coast. Moreover, the West Yorkshire towns of Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd were reportedly among the worst-affected areas, with floodwaters engulfing streets and submerging cars.

"While Storm Ciara is clearing away, that doesn't mean we're entering a quieter period of weather," said Met Office meteorologist Alex Burkill.

"It's going to stay very unsettled," he added, warning that  "blizzards aren't out of the question."

Yellow weather warnings for snow, ice, and wind remain in place for large portions of the U.K.

In northern France, power outages affected 130 000 homes as portions of the area were put on an orange alert. According to Meteo France, wind speeds of 130 km/h (81 mph) were recorded along the coast.

Furthermore, trees and power towers were knocked down, as well as roofs of homes across 31 departments, according to the fire and rescue services.

In Ireland, 10 000 homes were left without electricity amid an orange alert in place for the risk of flooding in coastal regions.

An orange alert was also issued for Belgium, where 60 flights from and to Brussels had been postponed. Trees and scaffolding were knocked down in the capital city, while some buildings sustained damage.

In Germany, where the storm was named Sabine, gusts measuring more than 170 km/h (106 mph) were reported in the Black Forest in southern Germany on Monday morning. 

The mainline train services were suspended on Sunday night. According to Deutsche Bahn spokesman Achim Stauss, the storm was so fierce that "we are forced to completely stop mainline train traffic in Germany."

Flights were canceled in several airports in the country as the storm ripped from the north affecting Frankfurt, Berlin, Munich, Cologne, and Hanover. In Dusseldorf, 120 flights were canceled.

Sports events were also affected due to the storm's intensity, with Sunday's English Premier League fixture between Manchester City and West Ham being called off.

The entire Women's Super League football program was also postponed, as well as Sunday's Scotland-England clash in the Women's Six Nations rugby tournament.

In the Netherlands, around 240 flights to and from Amsterdam's Schiphol airport, one of Europe's busiest, were canceled on Sunday. In addition, all professional Dutch soccer matches were canceled, along with most outdoor sporting events.

In Poland, two women died after the storm ripped off a roof of a ski rental equipment building in the mountain resort of Bukowina Tatrzanska, near the border with Slovakia.

In Sweden, one man drowned after the boat he and another person were sailing in on the southern lake of Fegen capsized. The victim was washed ashore and later died. The other person is still missing, the AP reports.

One person died in Slovenia after being hit by a falling tree while driving.

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Featured image credit: @radiolancgirl/Twitter


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One Comment

  1. If this were 2007 there would be a lot of comments on here but they are all at the yell at each other about Trump and act stupid phase now.

    I’d love some inside stories about this storm ‘over there’.

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