Hurricane-Force Winds Pound UK and Europe, Upend Travel

LONDON—Storm Ciara battered the U.K. and northern Europe with hurricane-force winds and heavy rains Sunday, halting flights and trains and producing heaving seas that closed down ports. Soccer games, farmers markets, and cultural events were canceled as authorities urged millions of people to stay indoors, away from falling tree branches.

Named by the U.K. Met Office weather agency, the storm brought massive gusts that hit 93 mph (150 mph) at the northern Welsh village of Aberdaron and 86 mph (138 kph) at the Welsh town of Capel Curig. A British Airways plane is thought to have made the fastest ever flight by a conventional airliner from New York to London.

Britain Storm Ciara
Britain Storm Ciara
Waves lash the coast on the Ayrshire coast at Ardrossan, Scotland on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020. (Andrew Milligan/PA via AP)

The fierce winds propelled a Boeing 747-436 to make the 3,500-mile transatlantic journey from New York to London in just 4 hours and 56 minutes, landing 102 minutes early and reaching a top speed of 825 mph (1,327 kph), according to flight-tracking website 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.

Storm surges ate away at beaches and pounded rock cliffs and cement docks. The Met Office issued 190 emergency flood warnings and urged people not to try to drive through flooded roads. 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.

Three people were injured after a pub roof partially collapsed Saturday evening in the city of Perth in central Scotland.

Britain Storm Ciara
Britain Storm Ciara
Flooded streets in Appleby-in-Westmorland, Cumbria, as Storm Ciara hits the UK on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020. (Owen Humphreys/PA Wire)
Britain Storm Ciara
Britain Storm Ciara
Flooded streets in Appleby-in-Westmorland, Cumbria, as Storm Ciara hits the UK on Sunday, February 9, 2020. (Owen Humphreys/PA Wire)

At least 10 rail companies in Britain 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.

Londons Heathrow Airport and several airlines consolidated flights Sunday to reduce the number canceled by heavy winds. British Airways offered to rebook customers for domestic and European flights out of Heathrow, Gatwick and London City airports. Virgin Airlines canceled some flights.

Lufthansa airlines said there would be numerous cancellations and delays beginning Sunday afternoon and running until at least Tuesday morning. The airline plans to keep operating long-haul flights at its main Frankfurt hub. Eurowings, a budget subsidiary of Lufthansa, canceled most flights for the duration of the storm.

Brussels Airport also saw delays or cancellations.

Two huge ports on either side of the English Channel, Dover in England and Calais in France, shut down operations amid high waves. Ferries were canceled across the region, including in the turbulent Irish Sea and the North Sea.

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

Breaking with her usual Sunday routine, Queen Elizabeth II did not attend church in Sandringham due to high winds.

A cow was spotted on a main highway in southern England after high winds blew down fences.

Adding to the weather woes, heavy snow was predicted for Monday in some parts of the U.K.

In Ireland, power was knocked out to an estimated 10,000 homes, farms, and businesses. National weather agency Met Eireann warned that a combination of high tides, high seas, and stormy conditions had created a significant risk of coastal flooding, particularly in the west and northwest.

Fierce winds knocked out electricity in northern France as well. Paris authorities sent out a warning to residents and tourists alike to stay indoors for their safety. Parks and cemeteries in the city of Lille and nearby towns shut down as strong winds cracked heavy branches. Open-air markets closed early.

Luxembourg and the German city of Cologne announced that all school children could stay home Monday to avoid traveling under dangerous conditions.

In Germany, where the storm is known as “Sabine,” national railway operator Deutsche Bahn canceled long-distance trains to destinations most at risk, including Emden and Norddeich in Germanys northwestern corner, the northern city of Kiel anRead More – Source

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