LONDON – High winds battered parts of Britain and northern Europe on Friday as a severe storm killed at least six people in the region, damaged buildings and severely disrupted travel by air, land and sea.
The storm, called Eunice, ripped through roofs, threw debris onto the streets, sent planes lurching through the skies and led UK authorities to issue a rare weather safety warning for London. Britain’s national weather service, the Meteorological Office, said a gust of wind of 122 miles per hour was recorded on the Isle of Wight, off the south coast of England, which, if confirmed, would be the highest ever recorded by the country. Severe weather warnings have also been issued in Belgium and the Netherlands.
Richard Miles, a spokesman for the Met Office, said the storm was going to be bigger than any storm since the January 1990 storm that killed dozens of people in England.
The winds led to the death of at least five people on Friday – three in the Netherlands, one in Ireland and one in London – who were killed by falling trees.
A cyclist and another person were hit and killed by trees in Amsterdam, the Amsterdam-Amstelland fire brigade said in a press release. A person in the town of Diemen was killed inside a car after it was hit by a tree, firefighters said.
A man in his 60s was struck and killed by a falling tree in south-east Ireland, the country’s police said in a statement. The man, a Wexford County Council employee, was helping to clear debris from the storm.
A woman in her 30s has died in London after a tree fell on the car she was in, the Metropolitan Police Service said in a statement. And a sixth person, a man in his 50s, was killed when debris hit the windscreen of a vehicle in Netherton, England, Merseyside Police said in a statement.
The extent of the damage was unclear. London firefighters said he had received more emergency calls in a two-and-a-half-hour period on Friday than he normally receives in a day. The London Ambulance Service also said he was answering to a high number of calls and urged people not to call about fallen trees unless there are injuries.
Around 1,000 people have been evacuated from London’s O2 Arena, one of Britain’s biggest concert venues, after part of the building’s roof was blown off. There have been no reports of injuries or structural damage to the arena, London Fire Department said.
More than 200 flights have been canceled at airports in northern Europe, with most cancellations at Amsterdam Schipol Airport, according to FlightAware, a flight tracking website.
A live stream of planes trying to land at London’s Heathrow Airport was watched by more than 200,000 people at one time. The video, on a YouTube channel for aviation enthusiasts, was hosted by Jerry Dyer, who provided colorful commentary on each landing. As a plane banked and drifted to the tarmac, Mr. Dyer said “easy, easy, easy son” before a successful landing, earning a “well done” from Mr. Dyer.
Rail service in parts of Britain has also been disrupted, with Wales cancels all services for the day because of the weather. Network Rail, which owns and operates UK rail infrastructure, urged people not to travel “unless absolutely necessary” and suspended some services in the south of England on Friday afternoon due to debris blocking the tracks, including fallen trees, a trampoline and The roof of a building. Service has also been suspended to and from major London stations, including Waterloo and Euston.
The Port of Dover in South East England has been temporarily closed to shipping Friday afternoon. Ferry services have also been suspended between Dover and Calais, France, and canceled in the north of England between Newcastle and Amsterdam.
Dozens of school districts along the south and west coasts of Britain were closed on Friday, and attractions in and around London including the london eye, were also forced to close due to dangerous winds. Prince Charles’ plans to visit Newport and Swansea on the south coast of Wales were also canceled on Friday in “the interests of public safety”.
By early afternoon, more than 150,000 customers in Britain had lost power, according to PowerOutage.com, which aggregates utility data.
A wider part of the UK was under an amber warning, indicating a high risk of power outages, damage to buildings and uprooted trees, the Met Office said. Windy conditions could also scatter debris along the beaches.
The northern edge of the storm it was expected that there would be a chance of snow in parts of Britain, and some areas could experience blizzard conditions.
In the Netherlands, train service has been temporarily suspended and Friday’s professional football matches have been postponed. In Belgium, some schools closed prematurely because of the storm.
The storm was expected to dissipate by the end of the day, Mr Miles said, but conditions will remain windy over the weekend.
Eunice comes just after another storm, Dudley, knocked out power in parts of Britain and northern Europe and sent waves crashing into a ferry in Hamburg, Germany, causing damage .
Derrick Bryson Taylor reported from London, and Amanda Holpuch from New York. Claire Moses contributed reporting from Amsterdam, and Johnny Diaz from New York. Olivier De Meulder contributed to the translation.