LONDON – Gale-force winds hit Scotland on Thursday, causing a fatal truck accident, halting all trains and leaving tens of thousands of homes without electricity as much of northwestern Europe braced for a storm that was expected to bring flooding to coastal areas.
Winds gusting up to 142 miles (229 kilometres) per hour were measured overnight in the Scottish Highlands, and many roads and bridges were closed. All train services in Scotland were suspended; Network Rail spokesman Nick King said that “there’s too much debris and too much damage to equipment to continue.”
A truck driver was killed and four people were injured in an accident west of Edinburgh when high winds toppled his vehicle onto several cars, police said.
A number of flights serving Scotland were also cancelled, and power companies said up to 100,000 homes were without electricity. Another 7,000 homes were reported without power in Northern Ireland.
Glasgow’s central rail station was evacuated after debris smashed glass in the roof, though no one was hurt.
Weather forecasters predicted winds gusting up to 87 miles (140 kilometres) per hour on Germany’s North Sea coast. Britain’s Environment Agency said tidal surges could bring “significant” coastal flooding, and the Thames Barrier was closed to protect London.
Some homes in Great Yarmouth, on the Norfolk coast 130 miles northeast of London, were evacuated as a precaution against tidal surges. The Environment Agency issued more than 200 flood alerts across England and Wales.
Ferry operators cancelled services to some of Germany’s North Sea islands and the country’s national railway, Deutsche Bahn, warned of likely disruption across a swathe of northern Germany.
Train services in Denmark are being suspended after 1300 GMT.
The Netherlands braced for the storm by closing water barriers that protect the low-lying country from high tides. The Oosterscheldekering in the southwestern delta region of the country was being closed to protect the land behind it for the first time since 2007.
National carrier KLM cancelled dozens of flights to European airports as a precaution.
The German Weather Service said the storm front, which was gathering strength as it headed eastward from the Atlantic Ocean off Greenland, would also bring polar air to Europe — meaning that it could bring snow to low-lying areas.
© 2013 The Canadian Press