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Storm Ciarán battering the north Cornwall coast at Portreath Alamy Stock Photo
storm ciarán

Storm Ciarán: Britain on high alert as northern France hit with record winds of 200km/h

Here at home, Status Yellow warnings for rainfall across six counties were lifted at 7am.

LAST UPDATE | 2 Nov 2023

AFTER BATTERING NORTHERN France with record winds of 200km/h that killed a lorry driver, Storm Ciarán has headed north with Britain on high alert amid warnings of flooding, blackouts and major travel disruptions.

Here at home, Status Yellow warnings for rainfall across Cork, Carlow, Kilkenny, Waterford, Wexford, and Wicklow were lifted at 7am after Storm Ciarán crossed over Ireland’s south coast last night.

Some 1.2 million French homes lost electricity overnight as the storm lashed the northwest coast, ripping trees out of the ground.

The death was caused by a tree falling on the cabin of a heavy goods vehicle in the Aisne department, emergency services told AFP.

“The wind gusts are exceptional in Brittany and many absolute records have been broken,” the national weather service Meteo-France said on X (formerly Twitter).

The prefect for the local department said gusts as high as 207km/h were recorded at Pointe du Raz on the tip of the northwest coast, while the port city of Brest saw winds hit 156km/h.

In southern England, hundreds of schools were closed as large waves powered by winds of 135km/h crashed along the coastline.

On the Channel Island of Jersey, residents had to be evacuated to hotels overnight as gusts of up to 164km/h damaged homes, according to local media.

The Netherlands also warned of powerful gusts of up to 100km/h, with workers told to avoid commuting and more than 200 flights marked as cancelled at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, a major European hub.

Rail and ferry services, including the Eurostar that links the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany and the UK, saw cancellations and delays.

a-car-drives-through-flood-water-near-folkestone-kent-as-storm-ciaran-brings-high-winds-and-heavy-rain-along-the-south-coast-of-england-the-environment-agency-has-issued-54-warnings-where-flooding A car drives through flood water near Folkestone, Kent Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Roosmarijn Knol, weather forecaster for Dutch public broadcaster NOS, said the timing of the storm was important.

“Due to a warm autumn with a lot of rain, trees still have their leaves, and the ground is as wet as a sponge. Therefore, especially weak trees have a good chance of falling over. That is a big difference from an autumn storm at, say, the end of November, when all the leaves have already fallen,” said Knol.


Britain’s Environment Agency warned of “significant flooding along parts of the south coast and along parts of the Yorkshire and Northeast coasts” today.

The effects of the storm were felt as far south as Spain and Portugal, with Spanish authorities warning of waves as high as nine metres along the Atlantic coast.

In France’s northern Pas-de-Calais, authorities opened gymnasiums and shelters for migrants who converge on the region hoping to make it to Britain by boat.

But despite some damaged buildings and cars, there was some relief in France.

“We were expecting worse. There was obviously a big blast of wind, but no major damage,” said one local mayor Olivier Lepick.

There was disappointment, however, for the hardy athletes of the annual Dutch “headwind cycle championships” race.

They only hold their race along the Oosterscheldekering storm surge barrier in the western Netherlands if the wind is above a gale seven on the Beaufort Scale (up to 61km/h), but they finally met their match with Storm Ciaran and had to cancel.

There were “many disappointed faces,” organiser Robrecht Stoekenbroek told local agency ANP, vowing to go ahead when the storm passed.

© AFP 2023 

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