Storm Eleanor brings chaos to Europe

By AFP January 04,2018

Walkers take photographs of stormy seas by the lighthouse in New Brighton, northwest England, as Storm Eleanor swept over the country
Winter storm Eleanor swept across Europe on Wednesday, bringing death, damage and disruption, snarling transport networks and cutting power to tens of thousands of people.

Two people died on Spain’s northern Basque coast, the couple swept away by a huge wave, officials said, and another person had to be rescued after attempting to save them.

In France, a 21-year-old skier was killed by a falling tree at Morillon in the Alps where dangerous conditions forced the closure of several resorts.

More than a dozen others were injured by the storm across France, four seriously, civil defense spokesman Michael Bernier told AFP as the country was lashed by what meteorologists termed the strongest winds in eight years.

On the French Mediterranean island of Corsica, where gusts of up to 140 kilometers per hour were recorded, winds fanned the flames of forest and scrub fires started by downed power lines, leaving three people injured.

At Lenk in central Switzerland, eight people were hurt when a violent gust of wind overturned a railway carriage while one person was injured by a falling tree in the southern Dutch village of Heesch.

Heavy winds forced authorities to close the airports in Strasbourg and Basel-Mulhouse on France’s border with Germany and Switzerland before they were reopened shortly after midday.

At Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport, most departures were delayed Wednesday morning and a handful of flights had to be rerouted before the winds eased.

The weather wreaked havoc with train services and motorway access in several French regions, the result of fallen trees, electrical lines and other debris.

About 225,000 homes across France were without electricity, while “particularly intense” flooding was expected on the Atlantic coasts.
The Eiffel Tower had to turn away tourists in the morning because of the gusts before reopening later.

Eleanor barrelled into continental Europe after whipping across England and Ireland, with the Thames Barrier, one of the largest movable flood barriers in the world, closed as a precautionary measure to protect London from swelling tides.

“We have seen some heavy showers push through across the south of the UK along with hail, loud thunder and lightning,” said meteorologist Becky Mitchell.

Gusts of 160 kph were recorded at Great Dun Fell in Westmorland, northwest England, while overturned vehicles and trees caused closures of major motorways.

In Ireland, power supply company ESB said electricity had been restored to 123,000 customers, while 27,000 remained without power.

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