photo: A jetty in Plobannalec-Lesconil, western France on February 9
Numerous flights were cancelled, and train services suspended on Sunday as a powerful winter storm swept across northern Europe, bringing gale-force winds and heavy rain.
In Britain, winds of up to 150 kilometres per hour meant dozens of flights were cancelled and rail companies were operating reduced timetables, the Press Association news agency reported.
Some 10,000 households in Britain and Ireland were left without power, while the Met Office warned of flooding in Scotland and England.
Gatwick Airport advised travellers of continuing delays and Dover port cancelled shipping and said people should consult their ferry operators.
In Scotland, three people were injured when a pub roof collapsed due to the storm, PA reported. And in England’s east, powerful winds shifted the roof off a football stadium.
For security reasons, Britain’s monarch cancelled plans to attend church at Sandringham, a spokeswoman for Buckingham Palace said, based on concern for the members of the public who always turn out to see her.
Thanks to the higher wind speeds, a British Airways plane broke records, crossing the Atlantic in five hours and 56 seconds from New York to London, the fastest ever speed for a subsonic flight.
The French weather service issued warnings to more than 40 departments in the country’s north east. Coastal areas could expect wind speeds to reach 140 kilometres per hour and the possibility of floods, Meteo France said on Sunday. People living the country’s eastern regions should not leave their homes unless necessary, the service said.
Germany’s weather service said the storm – which is called Sabine there – would reach the north and central parts of the country during Sunday, and southern Germany early on Monday morning.
The service extended its severe weather warning to run through to Monday evening.
Deutsche Bahn, the country’s rail company, said on Sunday evening it planned to suspend train services nationwide because of the storm. It would gradually wind down all long-distance trains nationwide at larger stations, starting in North Rhine-Westphalia, the company said.
Earlier on Sunday, a fallen tree delayed a train from Amsterdam to Berlin, keeping 300 passengers stuck for two hours.
On Sunday, Eurowings, a Lufthansa subsidiary, cancelled almost all its flights in Germany for the duration of the storm, stopping connections from Hamburg, Berlin. Hanover, Dortmund, Düsseldorf and Cologne. There were only a few flights out of Munich and Stuttgart, the airline said. The airline said it would try to reinstate flights on Monday.
Airports in Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hanover, Bremen, Berlin and Cologne also said the storm would affect operations.
On Sunday, the airport in the western German city of Düsseldorf had cancelled or diverted 111 flights by midday and Cologne Bonn airport cancelled 40 flights. Both airports advised passengers that cancellations could continue through to Monday.
Berlin’s airports also announced cancellations on Sunday, and a spokeswoman said the airport was monitoring the weather situation.
Brussels Airport, Belgium’s main international hub, cancelled around 60 flights on Sunday, the Belga news agency reported. The airport likewise advised passengers to consult its website in case of further delays and cancellations caused by strong winds.
KLM cancelled 120 European flights from and to Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport as a precaution.
The Dutch weather service urged drivers to leave their caravans at home, and the country’s football association cancelled all games in its professional leagues for Sunday.
The differing names of the storm can be traced back to different weather services adopting the practice of naming storms in parallel.
The US weather service started identifying typhoons with female names in World War II, to distinguish more easily between severe weather systems. The practice proved convenient for Atlantic hurricanes too.
In Germany, a meteorologist proposed naming weather systems in 1954, and the Institute of Meteorology at Berlin’s Humboldt University started naming pressure systems. In 2002, the institute started to allow members of the public to sponsor storms with names they choose.