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Monday, March 01, 2010

Extratropical Xynthia ravenges western Europe

A very strong storm with hurricane strength winds raked the northern coastal area of Europe last week. The storm caused severe flooding, downed trees and caused the deaths of scores of people.

The storm caused at least 3 deaths in Spain and one small girl in Portugal Saturday.

Storms kill 15 in France, three in Spain (Nine O'clock)
Storms swept through western Europe over the weekend, killing at least 15 people in France, three in Spain and one in Portugal, officials said. Local authorities in France warned the toll could rise after three people died on Saturday and another 12 yesterday. Some drowned while others were hit by falling trees and branches. Two people were killed near the northern Spanish city of Burgos when their car hit a fallen tree and a woman died when a wall fell on her in northwestern Spain. Unusually strong winds also uprooted trees in many parts of Portugal. A girl of 10 died when she was hit by a falling tree. Heavy rain lashed many parts of the country and several rivers rose sharply, with flood warnings on Sunday for low-lying parts of second city Porto along the Douro River estuary.

The death toll increased in France and the storm continued through the weekend. Wind speeds reached 100 MPH - the equivalent to a Category 2 hurricane - in coastal areas with waves as high as 25 feet.

Europe storm Xynthia death toll rises to 62; in France, 1 million without power (Christian Science Monitor)

Xynthia, the storm that roared out of the Atlantic over the weekend and battered the coast of Western Europe from Portugal north to the Netherlands, had a confirmed death toll of 62 as of Monday morning.

At least 51 of the deaths were in France, the country hit hardest by the storm, which flooded coastal areas with 25-foot-high waves and 100-mile-per-hour winds in coastal regions.

The storm also cut power to roughly 1 million French homes. The national electricity utility said that all power should be restored by Wednesday

--snip--

Xynthia led to storm surges in coastal towns that saw floodwaters rise to the second story of buildings and smash sea walls – some dating back to the 19th century, according to the French press.

"It is a national disaster, a human drama with a terrible death toll," President Sarkozy said. "The urgent thing is to support the families who have members missing or dead."

While France was hit the hardest, casualties were also reported from Spain, Belgium, England, and Germany.

Xynthia continued on into Germany Sunday night causing further destruction and several more deaths. Most if not all of the deaths were caused by trees falling on victims from the high winds.

Violent storm 'Xynthia' cuts deadly path (The Local)
The vicious Atlantic storm “Xynthia” ravaged Germany overnight, killing at least six and injuring dozens. National rail provider Deutsche Bahn said on Monday morning that commuter traffic was “relatively stable” after wind downed countless trees.

The German Weather Service (DWD) called off its storm warning for hurricane-force winds of up to 120 kilometres per hour in most places, but cities above 1,000 metres were still on alert after several casualties across the country.

In Lower Saxony a 46-year-old man died after colliding with a tree when his car was blown from the roadway, police said.

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