Big storm hits UK, Europe
Hurricane-force gusts leave at least 13 people dead
People watch the waves batter into the sea wall of a marina in Brighton, south England, Monday. A major storm with hurricane force winds is lashing much of Britain, causing flooding and travel delays including the cancellation of roughly 130 flights at London's Heathrow Airport. Weather forecasters say it is one of the worst storms to hit Britain in years. AP photo
LONDON — A savage coastal storm powered by hurricane-force gusts slashed its way through Britain and western Europe on Monday, felling trees, flooding lowlands and snarling traffic in the air, at sea and on land. At least 13 people were reported killed.
It was one of the worst storms to hit the region in years. The deadly tempest had no formal name — and wasn’t officially classified as a hurricane due to a meteorological standard — but it was dubbed the St. Jude storm (after the patron saint of lost causes) and “stormageddon” on social networks.
Gusts of 99 miles per hour were reported on the Isle of Wight in southern England, while gusts up to 80 mph hit the British mainland. Later in the day, the Danish capital of Copenhagen saw record gusts up of to 120 mph and an autobahn in central Germany was shut down by gusts up to 62 mph.
At least thirteen storm-related deaths were reported, most victims crushed by falling trees.
Two people were killed in London by a gas explosion and a British teen who played in the storm-driven surf was swept out to sea. A man in Denmark was killed when a brick flew off and hit him in the head.
London’s Heathrow Airport, Europe’s busiest, canceled at least 130 flights and giant waves prompted the major English port of Dover to close, cutting off ferry services to France.
Nearly 1,100 passengers had to ride out the storm on a heaving ferry from Newcastle in Britain to the Dutch port of Ijmuiden after strong winds and heavy seas blocked it from docking in the morning. The ship returned to the North Sea to wait for the wind to die down rather than risk being smashed against the harbor’s walls.
A nuclear power station in Kent, southern England, automatically shut its two reactors after storm debris reduced its incoming power supply. Officials at the Dungeness B plant said the reactors had shut down safely and would be brought back once power was restored. The storm left Britain in the early afternoon and roared across the English Channel, leaving up to 270,000 U.K. homes without power.
Trains were canceled in southern Sweden and Denmark. Winds blew off roofs, with debris reportedly breaking the legs of one man. In Germany, the death toll hit six, with four people killed in three separate accidents Monday involving trees falling on cars. A sailor near Cologne was killed Sunday when his boat capsized and a fisherman drowned northeast of the city.
Thousands of homes in northwestern France also lost electricity, while in the Netherlands several rail lines shut down and airports faced delays. Amsterdam’s central railway station was closed due to storm damage.
In France, maritime officials were searching for a woman who was swept into the turbulent Atlantic by a big wave Monday as she walked on Belle Isle, a small island off the coast of Brittany.
Trains were canceled in southern Sweden, and many bridges were closed between the islands in Denmark.