Severe travel disruption, power cuts and 190km/h winds as Storm Ciaran hits France

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Severe travel disruption, power cuts and 190km/h winds as Storm Ciaran hits France
Storm damage in Brittany. Photo: AFP

Two people died and 15 were injured as Storm Ciaran battered France with winds of up to 190km/h, also causing severe travel disruption on airlines, trains and roads.


Storm Ciaran continued to batter northern France on Thursday, leading to severe travel disruption and power outages.

Interior minister Gérald Darmanin, in a midday briefing, confirmed that one person has died - a lorry driver in the northern département of Aisne after a falling tree hit his lorry - and 15 people have been injured, seven of whom were firefighters. 

It was later reported that a second person died after falling from a balcony in Le Havre - local media reports that the man in his 70s was caught by a gust of wind as he went to close his shutters.

A total of 1,300 people have been evacuated from their homes and the north of the country is still experiencing winds of up to 190 km/h in places.

The storm struck on Wednesday night in Brittany and is now moving east, with the northern Pas-de-Calais and Hauts-de-France areas experiencing very high winds.

Transport is severely disrupted throughout the north and west of the country - including Paris - due to fallen trees and other storm damage. Many roads remain closed in Brittany as emergency workers deal with the large number of fallen trees.


TER services will not run in Normandy, Brittany, Pays-de-Loire, Hauts-de-France and Centre-Val de Loire on Thursday - except for the line from Paris-Bercy to Nevers. TGV services have been suspended on Thursday in Pays de la Loire and Brittany, except for the Paris-Rennes line.


The Brest Bretagne airport was to remain closed until at least 9.30am on Thursday. Quimper airport, also in Brittany, closed early on Wednesday for 24 hours.

Eurostar, expecting disruptions and slowdowns, told AFP it was recommending that passengers delay any trips planned for Thursday.

In Paris, Aeroports de Paris said that it expected delays in both departures and arrivals at Paris Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports due to the weather, while services on the RER and Transilien suburban rail networks have been severely disrupted due to fallen trees on the lines. 

Paris Beauvais airport, which is in the Oise département north of the Paris region, halted or rerouted all flights until 12 noon. 

On Thursday morning 1.2 million households were without electricity, most of them in Brittany.

The red weather alerts - indicating danger to life - have now been downgraded but 23 départements in northern France, plus coastal areas in the west, remain orange alert for high winds, heavy rain and possible flooding.

In Finistère, local officials imposed a ban on travelling by road due to the danger from high winds and floods. This has now been lifted.

President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday evening issued an appeal for people in the storm-affected areas to stay at home and, on Thursday, transport minister Clément Beaune called on businesses to allow employees to work from home if possible. 

The storm has broken several weather records, with a gust of wind 207km/h recorded at Pointe du Raz, in Brittany, although the record is yet to be verified by Météo France.


In Finistère, all weather stations recorded winds of above 130km/h and 80 percent of them recorded winds of above 150km/h, with three coastal areas recording winds of above 190km/h. 


In Ouessant, Finistère, a wave of 21 metres in height was recorded at 6am. 


In Paris winds of 90 km/h were recorded at the Parc Montsouris weather station, and all city parks, gardens and cemeteries are closed on Thursday.

The storm also battered southern England, while Belgian authorities have also issued weather warnings.

In Cornwall in southern England, large waves powered by winds of 85 miles per hour (136km/h, crashed along the coastline on Thursday morning, while hundreds of schools in the area were closed.

On the Channel Island of Jersey, residents had to be evacuated to hotels overnight as wind gusts of up to 164 km/h (102 miles per hour) damaged homes, according to local media.

A red warning was in place on the island and all flights were cancelled on the islands of Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney.

"Large waves and onshore gales brought by Storm Ciaran could see significant flooding along parts of the south coast and along parts of the Yorkshire and Northeast coasts on Thursday," said Ben Lukey, flood duty manager at Britain's Environment Agency.


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