Starting on Wednesday, Storm Ciarán has brought extreme winds and heavy rainfall to most of Western Europe, leading to floodings, power cuts and the suspension of many transport services.
1. United Kingdom (UK)
The UK is the most affected country, as it is the main target of Storm Ciarán before it moves on to the continent. The UK’s Met Office Deputy Chief Meteorologist, Brent Walker said “very strong winds are expected along southern coastal areas of England in particular, where gusts of 70 to 80mph (110 to 130 km/h) are possible, perhaps exceeding 85 mph (137 km/h) in a few exposed locations. Further inland, gusts could reach up to 50 or 60mph (80 to 96 km/h). As the winds keep increasing, the country’s Tornado and Storm Research Organisation (TORRO) has issued a tornado warning.
Trains across the country have been suspended or schedules severely impacted. Generally, passengers are advised not to travel to or out of London, as tracks are being inspected for fallen trees.
Meanwhile, Network Rail has announced that “heavy rain accompanied by strong winds in some areas could affect journeys across Wales, the south of England and the Midlands on Thursday, and across the northeast of England and central and eastern Scotland on Thursday and Friday. Owing to the adverse weather conditions, passengers should allow extra time for their journeys and check before travelling as services may be disrupted.”
Trains run by Govia Thameslink Railway south of Gatwick to Brighton have been scrapped, while services from Brighton to London have been reduced and from Brighton to Southampton “significantly delayed”.
As roads are affected by fallen trees and debris, road traffic is also restricted. Coach company Stagecoach has halted all buses from its Eastbourne depot, while people across the country are advised to avoid driving in the most affected areas.
“Airport authorities have decided to close the airport to commercial operations all day on Thursday. The airport will remain open for emergency and medical flights, and will reopen on Friday after a visual inspection of the airport infrastructure”, Heathrow Airport announced passengers, while British Airways has cancelled 30 domestic and European flights from Heathrow.
Lastly, ferry services between Dover and Calais have been suspended at least until Friday morning, ferries between Newhaven and Dieppe have been cancelled until further notice, while all Brittany Ferries services between the UK and Spain have been cancelled on Thursday.
France is seeing gusts of 150 to 170 km/h on the coast of Finistère, Côtes d’Armor and Cotentin and 130 to 150 km/h on the Morbihan coast and locally in Loire-Atlantique, according to national weather service Météo-France. Inland, gusts have been predicted to reach 110 to 130 km/h in Brittany and Cotentin, and even higher in Finistère, where winds of up to 207 km/h have been registered on the Pointe du Raz, according to France 24.
Local train services in western towns have been cancelled, while national rail operator SNCF has announced it has preventively stopped some of its services across Normandy, Brittany, Pays de la Loire, Hauts of France and Center Val de Loire. The high-speed service TGV keeps running from Paris to Rennes and Lille, but intermediate stations are not being serviced.
Eurostar has also advised all passengers to postpone their journeys, if possible.
As for roads, all traffic in the Finistère region has been closed since this morning, while caution is advised for the rest of the country.
Belgium is seeing gusts of 90 to 110 km/h in West Flanders, parts of Hainaut and East Flanders, values which “could also be occasionally exceeded in a heavy downpour”, the Royal Meteorological Institute warns. Towards the centre of the country, winds are keeping between 80 and 100 km/h, while in the east between 70 (the extreme southeast) and 90 km/h.
“On Thursday 2 November, due to expected stormy weather and for safety reasons, train traffic will be severely disrupted across the network”, national rail operator SNCB has announced. “We advise you to plan your journey just before your departure via our website or the SNCB app.”
Moreover, all rail services from Bruges to coast towns have been suspended, as well as those between De Panne and Lichtervelde and Kortrijk and Poperinge.
The Royal Meteorological Institute of the Netherlands has issued a code orange in Zeeland for very heavy wind gusts (100 to 110 km/h), which also applies to the coastal areas of South and North Holland, the Wadden and the IJsselmeer from this afternoon and tonight. Elsewhere (except the northeast) there is a code yellow for heavy wind gusts (75-90 km/h).
Dutch railway company NS has announced that “train traffic is experiencing limited inconvenience from the storm. Besides an extra transfer at Roosendaal for passengers to and from Zeeland, NS is not taking any other measures for now.” However, the company has warned that disruptions may appear later on as tracks could become blocked by fallen trees.
Dutch airline KLM has cancelled all of its Thursday flights due to weather conditions at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.
Some ferry services to the islands of Vlieland and Terschelling have also been cancelled.