Powerful Storm Knocks Europe for a Loop

LONDON (AFP) — Storm Ciara caused travel chaos on Monday, severely disrupting commutes and grounding hundreds of flights as swaths of Europe were left without power by winds of up to 110 miles per hour and torrential rain that caused flash flooding and cancellation of sports competitions.

In one of the most violent storms in years, one man died and another was reported missing in southern Sweden when their boat capsized, and three people were seriously injured in Germany by falling trees and branches.

A man piles sandbags outside a house Sunday in Appleby-in-Westmorland, Cumbria, England. Trains, flights and ferries have been cancelled and weather warnings issued across the United Kingdom as a storm with hurricane-force winds up to 80 mph batters the region. (Owen Humphreys/PA via AP)

Parts of northern France were put on orange alert and 130,000 homes had electricity cut off.

The Netherlands closed one of its big storm surge barriers as the tempest approached Sunday night. Police said it caused Monday morning traffic jams on 375 miles of roads.

Around 220 flights were canceled during the morning at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport — Europe’s third-busiest — most destined for other European cities. Around 240 never took off on Sunday.

Another man was injured by a tree in the Czech Republic, where winds reached up to 112 mph on the country’s highest mountain, Snezka. The storm left 100,000 without power there and even toppled over a truck.

Luxembourg canceled school classes and morning rush hour traffic ground to a halt in Brussels due to street closures and flooding.

Britain began a cleanup after bearing the brunt of one of the most of violent and destructive storms in years.

“While Storm Ciara is clearing away, that doesn’t mean we’re entering a quieter period of weather,” Met Office meteorologist Alex Burkill warned. “Blizzards aren’t out of the question.”

Transport was disrupted across the country with planes and trains canceled or delayed.

The highest wind speed recorded was 93 mph in the northwest Welsh village of Aberdaron.

More than 6 inches of rain fell in 24 hours at Sleddale Reservoir in northwest England’s Lake District national park.

Waves crash over Blackpool waterfront in England on Monday. Propelled by the fierce winds, a British Airways plane was thought to have made the fastest New York-to-London flight by a conventional airliner. (Peter Byrne/PA via AP)

More than 170 flood warnings remained in place Monday.

The West Yorkshire towns of Hebden Bridge and neighboring Mytholmroyd were among the worst hit by the storm.

Cars were submerged in the floodwaters and tens of thousands of homes had their electricity cut.

Much of the initial damage and disruption in Europe was along the coasts.

Channel ferry services between the English port of Dover and Calais in northern France resumed Monday morning after being halted Sunday.

The whole Belgian offshore wind farm was shut down as powerful gusts caused the turbines to stop automatically for safety reasons.

The storm was so violent that “we are forced to completely stop mainline train traffic in Germany this Sunday evening,” Deutsche Bahn spokesman Achim Stauss said.

Disruptions in Germany also began Sunday with more than a hundred flights across three big cities canceled.

A view of a Toyota car in a sinkhole, which appeared overnight in the aftermath of Storm Ciara, in Brentwood, England, on Monday. (Nick Ansell/PA via AP)

Sports events were also hit.

Sunday’s English Premier League game between Manchester City and West Ham was called off due to “extreme and escalating weather conditions,” City said in a statement.

The entire Women’s Super League football program was also called off. Sunday’s Scotland-England clash in the Women’s Six Nations rugby tournament has been rescheduled for Monday.

But there was an upside for passengers flying British Airways to London from New York.

The storm helped the flight to finish in the subsonic flight record time of 4 hours 56 minutes, according to flight-tracking website Flightradar24.

A British man wearing only swimming trunks braved the weather on a charity walk the length of mainland Britain from Lands End, southwest England, to John o’Groats, northeast Scotland.

“Speedos are designed to get wet and mine are absolutely soaking in this weather,” said fundraiser Michael Cullen as he trekked in Glastonbury.

© Agence France-Presse

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