Massive storm shuts down air traffic across Europe

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Northern Europe is currently being hit by a major storm, nicknamed Storm Sabine in Germany and Storm Ciara in the UK, which is moving south.

Severe warnings have been issued across parts of northern Europe as the storm sweeps across the continent.

High winds and heavy rain continue to batter areas of Ireland, France, Belgium, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg and Scandinavia.

The storm led to travel disruptions and the cancellation of several public events over the weekend.

Forecasters predict it will continue to move south-eastwards, bringing gusts of over 145km/h in some areas.

In Germany, Düsseldorf airport reported it had canceled or diverted 111 flights, with Cologne-Bonn airport also reporting a number of grounded flights. Both airports advised passengers that stoppages could continue on Monday.

Around 180 flight departures and arrivals — about 15% of scheduled flights — were canceled at Frankfurt Airport, a spokeswoman for the airport operator Fraport said, adding that 130 flights scheduled for Monday had already been canceled. Short- and long-haul flights from Munich airport have been grounded until midday Monday, the national carrier, Lufthansa, said.

Storm Sabine hit Germany
Workers remove scaffolding of around 150 square meters that fell onto a street in Berlin, Germany. EPA-EFE/HAYOUNG JEON

The storm is the strongest to hit the UK since 2013.

The UK Met Office issued more than 200 flood warnings after heavy rains caused some rivers to burst their banks. More than 150 millimeters (5.9 inches) of rain fell in a 24-hour period in northwest England’s Lake District national park.

Storm Ciara crosses from West and across Europe
A handout photo made available by Blackpool-based South Shore Fire Station showing fire station personnel assisting a motorist stranded in flood waters under a bridge to get out of the car in Blackpool, Britain, 09 February 2020. Western and northern Europe brace for storm Ciara that is expected to bring strong winds and heavy rains and to cause severe disruption to traffic. EPA-EFE/South Shore Fire Station HANDOUT

The rough weather also brought down trees and power lines, leaving around 30,000 homes without electricity.

Dozens of flights were cancelled and rail companies operated reduced timetables. British Airways has offered to rebook affected passengers’ flights. The national rail company has advised passengers not to travel by train for the time being.

Huge waves forced the English port of Dover to shut down operations, and ferries across the region were also halted.

In Ireland, around 14,000 homes and businesses were left without power as the country begins counting ballots for its general election.

Organisers also cancelled an opening ceremony to mark the beginning of Galway’s year as the European Capital of Culture, citing public safety.

Belgium was expected to be affected for about 24 hours from 10 a.m. local time (0900 UTC), with wind speeds of about 130 kmh or more. About 60 flights were canceled at Brussels Airport, including flights from Lufthansa and Eurowings.

Authorities warned of flooding and storm damage in northwestern France. In the Vosges mountains, wind speeds of up to 140 km/h were expected. Authorities warned against going into forests and parking cars under trees.

The port of Calais was closed due to dangerous swell.

Storm Ciara crosses from West and across Europe
Travellers in the departure hall at Schiphol Airport, The Netherlands, 09 February 2020. Due to storm Ciara many flights have been cancelled. Western and northern Europe braces for storm Ciara that is expected to bring strong winds and heavy rains and to cause severe disruption to traffic. EPA-EFE/OLAF KRAAK

In the Netherlands, people have been told to leave their infamous caravans at home, while the national football association cancelled all games in its professional leagues on Sunday. KLM grounded dozens of European flights to and from Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport.

France issued amber warnings – its second-highest level – for 42 regions of the country, including Normandy, the Ardennes and Lorraine.

People in the country have been warned to stay away from coastal and wooded areas, several cities have closed off parks and seaside promenades.

Read more via BBC/DW/ France 24

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