Storm Ciara: Western Europe Swept Away, 42 French Departments on Orange Alert

General News
A fishing boat passes on February 9, 2020 in front of the lighthouse in New Brighton, in the north-west of England, where the storm Ciara arrived.

Storm Ciara has already caused damage in the United Kingdom, shutting down transport, as in Belgium. The northwest of France will be swept this Sunday evening.

Flights cancelled, ferries interrupted between France and England, football matches postponed to Belgium: the Storm Ciara was blowing on Sunday 9th February 2020 over northwestern Europe, raising fears of damage, floods and power outages.

In France, where the north is particularly exposed, 42 departments were placed in an orange alert by Météo-France in its 4pm bulletin.

The two Corsican departments as well as the Côte-d’Or (21), the Doubs (25), the Ille-et-Vilaine (35), the Haute-Saône (70) and the Territoire-de-Belfort (90) are added to the 35 departments already on alert orange since Sunday 6am, and which are the following:

Aisne (02), Ardennes (08), Aube (10), Calvados (14), Côtes-d’Armor (22), Eure (27), Eure-et-Loir (28), Finistère (29), Loire- Atlantique (44), Loiret (45), Manche (50), Marne (51), Haute-Marne (52), Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), Meuse (55), Morbihan (56), Moselle (57) , Nord (59), Oise (60), Orne (61), Pas-de-Calais (62), Bas-Rhin (67), Haut-Rhin (68), Paris and the inner suburbs (75-92-93- 94), Seine-Maritime (76), Seine-et-Marne (77), Yvelines (78), Somme (80), Vosges (88), Yonne (89), Essonne (91) and Val-d’Oise ( 95).

The UK hit hard

In the United Kingdom, the country most affected by this winter storm, air, rail and maritime transport was disrupted, the storm causing heavy rain and gusts of over 130 km/h.

The British Meteorological Service (Met Office) placed England and Wales on orange alert for the wind in part of the country until 9 p.m. Sunday.

92,000 homes were without electricity in the UK and rivers came out of their beds.

The Met Office recorded 150 km/h gusts of wind in Aberdaron, a village in North Wales.

Breaking on Newhaven lighthouse on February 9, 2020, on the south coast of England, crossed by storm Ciara.
Breaking on Newhaven lighthouse on February 9, 2020, on the south coast of England, crossed by storm Ciara. (© AFP / GLYN KIRK)

In the Scottish city of Perth, three people were injured in the partial collapse of the roof of a pub.

In Stanmore, in north-west London, a crane on a construction site folded in half “as if it were a spaghetti”, according to the photo published on Twitter by a resident, Lindsey Wells, 36, who was interviewed by the British press agency Press Association.

Dozens of flights have been cancelled or delayed, with British Airways offering passengers scheduled to arrive or depart from London airports on Sunday to postpone their flights. Virgin Atlantic also cancelled several flights from Heathrow, the country’s largest airport.

Interrupted ferries

Network Rail, the owner of the British rail network, advised against traveling by train on Sunday unless “absolutely necessary”, and warned that traffic could be disrupted until Monday morning. Several railway companies have also decided to reduce the frequency and speed of trains, or even to cancel certain services in Scotland.

At sea, the circulation of ferries in the English Channel between Calais and Dover was interrupted on Sunday midday “until further notice”.

The storm also led to the postponement of several football matches in the United Kingdom, as well as the Scotland-England match of the Six Nations Women’s Rugby Tournament, horse races…

The royal parks are closed and Queen Elizabeth II did not attend the traditional Sunday mass at Sandringham, her residence in the east of England.

In Ireland, placed on orange alert with the risk of flooding of coastal regions, 10,000 homes, farms and businesses were deprived of electricity.

In Galway (west), the opening ceremony to mark the launch of the European Capital of Culture 2020 event was cancelled on Saturday evening, and the airline Aer Lingus warned of possible delays and cancellations.

Air transport in Belgium is also affected, around sixty flights from or to Brussels airport have been cancelled.

Risk of waves submerging

In Luxembourg, students from public schools will be exempt from classes on Monday, due to a very severe storm warning for that day.

In France, where winds of up to 140 km/h are expected, orange vigilance covers the entire north of the country.

In the Hauts-de-France region, the prefectures called on the population to limit movement and not to walk in the forests because of the risk of falling trees, especially in the Somme, and to avoid the coast due to risk of “waves submersion”.

The region has announced “possible disruptions to the interurban and school transport network”.

In Lille as in Boulogne-sur-Mer, parks and gardens are closed all day on Sunday, while in Calais, the west pier of the beach, a popular place for walkers, has been closed since Saturday evening.

This is also the case in Nancy , Strasbourg , but also in Caen or Le Mans .  

A glass and metal shed where the famous “Calais Dragon” is stored, exposed in the open West wind, is the subject of all attention and “shelter” devices have been specially opened for two nights for migrants.

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