BERLIN – Two men died and thousands of people were evacuated on Thursday as a severe storm hit Scotland and other parts of Britain, packing winds of up to 140 miles per hour.
A truck driver was killed when his vehicle toppled onto a number of cars in the West Lothian region near Edinburgh. Another man died after being struck by a falling tree in Nottinghamshire, England.
More than 10,000 homes were evacuated on the east coast of England, after the Environment Agency issued its highest category of flood warning ahead of what it said would be “the most serious coastal tidal surge for over 60 years.”
The storm, dubbed Xaver, left tens of thousands of people across Scotland and northern England without power while the transport system was also left in chaos.
The rail network was suspended indefinitely and motorists were warned not to drive due to strong winds and falling branches.
Officials in Belgium, Germany, Scandinavia and the Netherlands also were taking precautions as the storm swept over the North Sea.
About 2,100 people living in the Belgian coastal resort of Bredene were evacuated from their homes, Belga news agency reported. They were considered to be at particular risk due to the nearby canal linking the cities of Ostend and Bruges.
Strong winds and tidal waves along the coast were expected to peak at 3 a.m. today.
“Based on simulations, we have calculated that the water level could reach 6.1 meters. That would be the highest measurement in 30 years,” said Carl Decaluwe, the governor of the West Flanders province. “But there is not yet reason to panic.”
All major bridges were closed in Denmark, including the Oresund Bridge, which links the country to Sweden. Train services in both countries were canceled.
Islands off Germany’s north coastal region Schleswig-Holstein also were cut off as ferry services were canceled, and flights were canceled at Cologne/Bonn, Dusseldorf and Hamburg airports.
Many Christmas markets and schools in the states of Schleswig-Holstein and North Rhein-Westphalia were closed, while authorities issued a warning to locals not to go out due to the danger of falling branches.