Storm slams northern Europe with dangerously high winds

Waves crashing against the sea wall at Porthcawl, Wales, on Friday, as a powerful storm swept across parts of Britain. (Photo: AFP)
LONDON — Strong winds battered parts of Britain and Northern Europe on Friday, leading to the death of at least one person, damaging buildings and severely disrupting travel. The storm, called Eunice, was the second in less than a week to hit the region and was expected to be the worst in 30 years, a weather official in Britain said.اضافة اعلان

Britain’s national weather service, the Meteorological Office, said a wind gust of 122 mph was recorded on the Isle of Wight, off the south coast of England, which if confirmed would be the country’s highest ever. Severe weather warnings were also issued in Belgium and the Netherlands.

Richard Miles, a spokesperson for the Met Office, said the storm was going to be more significant than any since one in January 1990 that killed dozens of people in England.

On Friday, a man in his 60s was struck and killed by a falling tree in southeast Ireland, the country’s police service said in a statement. The man, an employee of the Wexford County Council, was helping to clear debris from the storm.

There were no other immediate reports of deaths, and the extent of the damage was unclear. The London Fire Brigade said it had received more emergency calls over a 2 1/2 hour period Friday than it normally received in a day. The London Ambulance Service also said it was responding to a high number of calls and urged people not to call about fallen trees unless there were injuries.

About 1,000 people were evacuated from the O2 Arena in London, one of Britain’s largest concert venues, after part of the building’s roof was shredded by the wind. There were no reports of injuries and no structural damage to the arena, the London Fire Brigade said.

More than 200 flights were canceled at airports across Northern Europe, with most of the cancellations at Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport, according to FlightAware, a flight-tracking website.

A livestream of jets attempting to land at Heathrow Airport in London was being watched by more than 200,000 people at one point. The video, on a YouTube channel for aviation enthusiasts, was hosted by Jerry Dyer, who provided colorful commentary with each landing. As one plane tilted and drifted toward the tarmac, Dyer said, “Easy, son, easy, easy,” before a successful landing, earning a “Nicely done” from Dyer.

Train service in parts of Britain was also disrupted, with Wales canceling all service for the day because of the weather. Network Rail, which owns and operates Britain’s rail infrastructure, urged people not to travel “unless absolutely necessary” and suspended some service in southern England on Friday afternoon because of debris blocking the tracks, including fallen trees, a trampoline and the roof of a building. Service was also suspended into and out of major train stations in London, including Waterloo and Euston.

The Port of Dover in southeastern England was temporarily closed to shipping Friday afternoon. Ferry services were also suspended between Dover and Calais, France, and canceled in the north of England between Newcastle and Amsterdam.

Scores of schools districts along the southern and western coasts of Britain were closed Friday, and attractions in and around London, including the London Eye, were also forced to close because of dangerous winds. Plans for Prince Charles to visit Newport and Swansea, on the south coast of Wales, were also canceled Friday in the “interest of public safety.”

As of early afternoon, more than 150,000 customers in Britain had lost electricity, according to, which aggregates data from utilities.

A wider swath of the United Kingdom was under an amber warning, indicating a high risk for power outages, damage to buildings and trees, the Met Office said. Windy conditions could also scatter debris along beaches.

The northern edge of the storm was expected to bring the risk of snow to parts of Britain, and some areas could see blizzard conditions.

In the Netherlands, rail service was temporarily suspended, and professional soccer games Friday were postponed. In Belgium, some schools closed early because of the storm.

The storm was expected to clear out by the end of the day, Miles said, but conditions will remain windy over the weekend.

Eunice comes just after another storm, Dudley, knocked out power across parts of Britain and Northern Europe and sent waves crashing through a ferry in Hamburg, Germany, causing damage.

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