Storm Ciaran battered northern France with record winds of nearly 200 km per hour killing a lorry driver as southern England remained on high alert Thursday and rail operators in several countries warned of traffic disruptions.The death was caused by a tree falling on the cabin of a heavy goods vehicle in the Aisne department, emergency services told AFP.
Some 1.2 million homes lost electricity overnight as the storm lashed France’s northwest coast, ripping trees out of the ground.
“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).
It said winds of 193 km/h (120 miles/h) had been recorded in the town of Plougonvelin on the very tip of the northwest coast, while the port city of Brest in Brittany saw gusts of 156 km/h.
Three French departments — Finistere, Cotes-d’Armor and Manche — were placed on red storm alert, the highest level, at midnight, though this was downgraded to orange early Thursday in some areas.
In Cornwall in southern England, large waves powered by winds of 85 miles per hour, 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 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.
National Highways, the government’s road operator, issued a severe weather alert for gales, warning of a “significant risk” to vehicles, while rail commuters in southern England advised to work from home by train operators, as lines are assessed for fallen trees and debris.
Rail services were limited in northern France and two regions were also placed on maximum flood alert.
In Pas-de-Calais, authorities said they would open two gymnasiums and several shelters for migrants who converge on the region, hoping to make it to Britain by boat.