Storm Ciara, or Sabine, Leaves 5 Dead in Europe


LONDON — Streets were flooded, flights were canceled, traffic was jammed, power was cut and wind-blown trees blocked roads and rails on Monday as a deadly winter storm raged through western and northern Europe.

Storm Ciara — or Sabine, as the storm is called in German-speaking countries — tore through Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, and Poland, unleashing chaos and killing at least five people, according to reports from news agencies and social media.

Steven Keates, a senior meteorologist in Britain’s Met Office, the country’s national meteorological service, said on Monday that though storms are common in winter, Storm Ciara is “notable” because of the very strong and widespread winds.

“It’s a powerful Atlantic storm, not the strongest we’ve ever seen,” he said by phone. “We’ve seen higher wind speeds and greater impact,” Mr. Keates added, but noted that Storm Ciara has had significant impacts across Britain and “really gusty winds.”

The storm first hit Ireland on Saturday afternoon before moving toward Britain and making its way to northwestern Europe. On Monday, it moved to Scandinavia, with the center between Sweden and Norway. A severe weather warning remained in Britain, cautioning wind, snow, and the potential for ice, for its Tuesday and Wednesday weather forecasts.

A 58-year-old man died in Britain after a tree fell on his car near Winchester, a city in southern England, on Sunday, the Hampshire Constabulary said on Facebook on Monday, while another man died in a similar way in Slovenia, The Associated Press reported.

A mother and her daughter died in Poland after the roof of a ski rental equipment building blew off and hit people near a ski lift in Bukowina Tatrzanska, a resort near the border with Slovakia. A man drowned after his boat capsized in southern Sweden, according to The Associated Press.

Winds reached speeds of 97 miles per hour on Sunday in the Needles, on the western edge of the Isle of Wight, just off the southern coast of England.

Video from Britain showed the wall of a two-story house collapse into the muddy River Teviot in Hawick, a Scottish town near the border with England. Elsewhere, a lifeboat nearly toppled over after it crashed into one powerful wave after the other off the coast of Hastings in southeastern England when a rescue team was deployed to look for a surfer.

The British government also warned that the tide was higher than normal because of the storm and warned of possible flooding.

More than 320,000 houses and businesses in England had trouble with power on Sunday after winds of speeds higher than 73 miles per hour caused damage to electricity networks across the country. Engineers had restored power to 91 percent of its customers who lost power over the weekend by Monday morning, U.K. Power Networks said in a statement.

In France, 90,000 homes were still without power on Monday, said Enedis, an electricity company, with some areas in Brittany in the northwest and Grand Est in the northeast coping with their biggest power outage ever.

The highest wind speed recorded by Meteo France was 152 kilometers per hour, about 94 miles per hour, in the Vosges mountains in Alsace, where eight people were injured, Agence France-Presse reported. In Paris, winds reached a speed of 65 miles per hour.

Train service was disrupted in Paris and in the north of France, and flights were canceled across France.

“We had a total of 22 flights cancellations,” said Edouard Aulanier, a spokesman for the Lille-Lesquin airport, an airport in northern France that hosts about 60 flights a day.

Service was also interrupted in Germany. More than 265 flights were canceled on Monday at Frankfurt Airport, a key European hub, according to Torben Bechmann, a spokesman for the airport. He added, however, that more than 1,300 flights were scheduled to arrive and depart.

The national railway company canceled its high-speed service in Germany, where, like France and Britain, trees blocked the tracks. Some regional train routes were also canceled, while parts of the Autobahn, the famed German highway, were blocked, causing traffic problems in some areas.

Firefighters were busy clearing roofs and streets of fallen branches, some of which hit cars, houses and power lines.

Uwe Kirsche, of the German weather service, said on Monday that the worst had passed, but storm warnings were still active in Bavaria, where 50,000 houses did not have power because of the storm.

Belgium, which was hit by Storm Ciara on Sunday and raised its warning level, recorded a maximum wind speed of about 70 miles per hour at Middelkerke, a region in western Belgium, the country’s meteorological office said in a statement on Monday.

The storm developed over the Atlantic Ocean “in interaction with a strong” jet stream, which consisted of winds running at about 249 miles per hour.

“The jet stream behaves like a giant vacuum cleaner which can sometimes dig deep areas of low pressure, until creating storm depressions,” the Belgian weather service added.

On Monday, Belgium lowered its warning, but still cautioned that forecasters were expecting strong winds, which could cause damage and snarl traffic.

Christopher F. Schuetze contributed reporting from Berlin, and Eva Mbengue from Paris.

Source : Nytimes