Storm Eunice unleashes record-setting winds, widespread damage in Britain

0
15

Feb. 19 (UPI) — A one-two punch of powerful windstorms has left northern and central Europe reeling this week. Storms Dudley and Eunice unloaded powerful winds and driving rain from Ireland to central parts of the continent, and impacts from Eunice are expected to last into the weekend, AccuWeather forecasters say.

The potent storms made their presence felt on land and sea by ripping the roof apart of a major arena in London while also causing a frightening scene on a commuter ferry in Hamburg, Germany. Authorities blamed Dudley, named Ylenia by the German meteorological service, for several fatalities in Germany and Poland.

Advertisement

As Eunice struck Ireland and Britain on Friday, howling winds hit with a vengeance. By midday, a wind gust of 70 mph was reported in the English port city of Plymouth, while Mumbles Head, a coastal site in Wales, had a wind gust of 87 mph.

Advertisement

The Needles, a landmark attraction on the Isle of Wight in southern England, reported a wind gust of 122 mph Friday morning, which the British Met Office preliminarily confirmed as the highest wind gust ever reported in England. For comparison, a Category 3 major hurricane in the Atlantic has winds ranging from 111 to 120 mph.

Before Storm Eunice even hit, hundreds of schools were closed across Britain and Prime Minister Boris Johnson had readied the army to help those affected by the storm.

The damaging winds tore apart the fabric roof of London’s O2 Arena, leaving wide openings in the structure. The BBC reported that the building was evacuated and closed for the remainder of Friday.”The safety of our visitors remains of paramount importance,” the O2 said in a statement, according to the BBC.

The wind proved challenging for pilots flying into London Heathrow Airport on Friday as wind gusts peaked at 61 mph midday. Heathrow reported flight delays as long as an hour, while London’s Stansted Airport had delays of 90 minutes, according to FlightAware.

Storm Dudley was the first windstorm to be named by the United Kingdom Met Office earlier this week. Also referred to as Ylenia by the German Meteorological Service, the storm impacted Ireland, Britain and Belgium on Wednesday before spreading into the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany and Poland on Thursday.

Advertisement

Wind gusts of 70 to 80 mph were reported in locations of Britain, while major cities like Edinburgh and London clocked in at 40 mph and 44 mph respectively. The powerful winds toppled part of a wind turbine near the town of Bridgend in South Wales.

In the Netherlands, rail services were suspended due to downed trees and power lines. Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam warned travelers that the high winds were likely to cause cancellations and delays.

Power outages extended from England to Germany, Poland and Czechia. Hundreds of thousands of customers were without electricity in Czechia alone.

In two of Germany’s most populous states, schools were closed on Thursday in anticipation of Dudley. As a precaution, both of Berlin’s zoos were also closed on Thursday. Rail company Deutsche Bahn canceled long-distance connections across the states of northern Germany, citing that there was “considerable” damage to the tracks and power lines across the region.

The Government Security Center of Poland sent out text messages ahead of the storm, warning people of the anticipated extreme winds and urging residents to stay indoors.

Large ships were banned from sailing across portions of the Elbe River near the northern German city of Hamburg due to dangerous waters and wind. Video posted to social media showed a massive wave shattering several windows of a commuter ferry. At least three people reportedly suffered injuries.

Advertisement

The British Met Office named Storm Eunice on Monday, anticipating the widespread impacts of this subsequent windstorm across the British Isles. This storm was referred to as Storm Zeynep in Germany.

“Storm Eunice is following the path of Storm Dudley, which brought damaging storm gusts upwards of 80 mph to parts of the United Kingdom on Wednesday and Thursday. Storm cleanup, such as downed trees and branches, restoring electricity and repairing structural damage, are likely to be delayed,” said AccuWeather meteorologist Alyssa Smithmyer.

Ahead of Eunice, the British Met Office issued rare “red” weather warnings for Friday, the highest warning category the agency uses, for high winds across portions of southern Wales, southwestern England and southeastern England, including London. More widespread “amber” alerts were issued across the remainder of England. Red warnings were last issued by the British Met Office for Storm Arwen, back in November, but prior to that, the last time a red warning was issued was in March 2018.

According to Met Office Chief Meteorologist Paul Gunderson, the red warning areas signify “a significant danger to life” and strong winds would have the potential to damage structures and send debris flying. Dangerous waves and coastal flooding were also a concern for the beaches of Wales and England, including for the English city of Brighton.

Advertisement

Yellow warnings for wind and snow were in place on Saturday across central and southern England, according to the British Met Office. Additional yellow warnings for rain and wind have been issued for Sunday and Monday as well, which will continue to hamper clean-up efforts.