Powerful winds bring outages, traffic chaos to France, UK

28th March 2016, Comments 0 comments

Tens of thousands of homes were without power in northwestern France early Monday after the region was pounded overnight by winds gusting to hurricane force that also triggered flight cancellations and outages in southern England.

Seven departments, or counties, in Normandy and Brittany were placed on "orange" alert, the second highest in Meteo-France's three-stage warning system.

At least 60,000 homes were without power, more than half of them in the French western peninsula of Brittany, electricity grid operator ERDF said.

Firemen across the two regions were called out more than 400 times, mainly to clear roads blocked by fallen trees and debris, emergency services said.

The strongest gusts were recorded on the Breton tourist island of Belle-Ile, of 150 kilometres (93 miles) per hour.

Coastal dwellers in three departments on the Atlantic -- Finistere, Morbibhan and Loire-Atlantique -- were warned of storm-surge waves.

In Britain, the same weather system -- dubbed "Storm Katie" -- left a trail of disruption in its wake as it swept across southern England overnight, leaving debris and roadwork barriers strewn across London's streets.

Winds gusting to 170 kph an hour forced the cancellation of around 150 flights in and out of Britain and left around 2,000 homes without power.

Heathrow, one of the world's busiest airports, reported around 130 cancellations with other flights delayed or diverted to other airports.

Some 20 flights in and out of London's Gatwick Airport were cancelled and another four diverted.

The Met Office national weather service issued an amber warning for winds for London and southeast England, advising people to be "prepared for disruption to outdoor activities and travel".

The service recorded gusts of 170 kph off the southern England coast, with winds of over 112 kph registered across the south.

A bridge crossing the River Thames in southeast England and the Severn Bridge which connects England and Wales were also closed, according to Highways England.

UK Power Networks said they were dealing with problems across Sussex, Surrey and Kent in southern England, leaving at least 2,000 households without electricity.

"It is particularly southern parts of England bearing the brunt of Storm Katie but also into parts of East Anglia as well, with these potentially damaging and disruptive gusts of wind of 60 to 70 mph -- but possibly more in the most exposed areas," said BBC weather forecaster Nick Miller.

Weather forecasters in both countries expected the storm to fade by the afternoon.


© 2016 AFP

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