Tue, Feb 11, 2020 - Page 7 News List

Hurricane-force winds pound Europe

TAILWIND:Propelled by the storm, a British Airways jetliner flew from New York to London in record time, while two Virgin Airlines flights also broke previous record

AP, BERLIN and LONDON

A strong winter storm that battered the British Isles and northern Europe with hurricane-force winds and heavy rains has moved to the east, disrupting travel across Germany and prompting authorities in some regions to close schools as a precaution.

More than 20,000 homes spent the night without power in the UK, and parts of the country braced for blizzards and snow yesterday.

Other areas in the UK were mopping up after a month-and-a-half’s rainfall fell in just 24 hours in some places and rivers burst their banks.

In Germany, utility companies were scrambling to restore power to about 50,000 homes in northern Bavaria.

Train travel across Europe’s biggest economy remained severely disrupted, leaving many commuters unable to get to work. Airlines canceled hundreds of flights from German airports.

The storm, dubbed Sabine in Germany and Ciara in the UK, also led to school closures in several cities and regions, including Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia state, where several people were injured by falling branches and toppling trees.

Meteorologists expected gusts up to 140kph in mountainous areas of southern Germany later yesterday.

On Sunday, the storm hit the Isle of Wight off the southern coast of Britain with gusts of 156kph.

Propelled by its fierce winds, a British Airways airplane was thought to have made the fastest New York-to-London flight by a conventional airliner.

The Boeing 747-436 completed the 5,633km transatlantic journey in 4 hours and 56 minutes, landing 102 minutes early and reaching a top speed of 1,327kph, according to flight tracking Web site Flightradar24.

Two Virgin Airlines flights also roared across the Atlantic, with all three smashing the previous subsonic New York-to-London record of 5 hours and 13 minutes, Flightradar24 reported.

Soccer games, farmers’ markets and cultural events were canceled in the UK as authorities urged millions of people to stay indoors, away from falling tree branches.

The storm delivered gusts of 150kph to the village of Aberdaron in northern Wales.

Storm surges ate away at beaches and pounded rock cliffs and cement docks.

The UK Meteorological Office (Met Office) issued more than 250 flood warnings, and public safety agencies urged people to avoid travel and the temptation to take selfies as floodwaters rose.

Residents in the town of Appleby-in-Westmorland in northwest England battled to protect their homes amid severe flooding as the River Eden burst its banks.

At least 10 rail firms in the UK sent out “do not travel” warnings, while nearly 20 others told passengers to expect extensive delays.

The strong winds damaged electrical wires and littered train tracks with broken tree limbs and other debris, including a family trampoline.

Huge crowds of stranded, frustrated travelers were seen at London’s King’s Cross and Euston train stations.

Two huge ports on either side of the English Channel, Dover in England and Calais in France, shut down operations amid high waves. Dover was partially reopened after being closed for 10 hours.

Ferries stopped running there and across the region, including in the Irish Sea and North Sea.

The Humber Bridge in northern England also shut down, a move its Web site said was only the second time the massive bridge had been entirely closed.

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