Saturday, December 07, 2013

Hurricane-force winds and tidal surges in Northern Europe

Emden - tidal surge, 6 Dec 13
Northern Germany near the Dutch border
Hurricane-force winds and tidal surges have killed at least seven people in northern Europe, flooded parts of Hamburg and left thousands of homes without electricity.

The storm, called Xaver, blew a tree on to a car in Poraj, northern Poland, killing three people inside. The storm also caused two deaths in the UK, one in Sweden and one in Denmark. Dozens of flights have been cancelled, hitting travellers at Berlin Tegel, Copenhagen and smaller airports. Many rail and ferry services were also cut in Germany and Scandinavia.

There is severe disruption in southern Sweden, with all rail services cancelled in the Skane region. Planes have been grounded at Sturup airport and Gothenburg's Landvetter airport, Radio Sweden reports. Fallen trees have blocked many roads in southern Sweden and heavy snow is adding to the chaos. More than 1,000 people spent the night at Copenhagen airport.

In eastern England about 10,000 homes were evacuated in Norfolk and Suffolk. Several homes collapsed into the sea at Hemsby when the storm battered the cliff top. The Thames Barrier was closed for a second day to protect London from the surge.

Many schools have been closed across the north of Poland and Germany. Winds gusted at nearly 93mph in northern Germany and later on Thursday winds grew to 142 mph. In Poland at least 400,000 homes are without electricity because of severed power lines.  Thousands of homes were also left without power in Sweden and Norway on Friday, the Associated Press news agency reports.

The port of Hamburg, which handles a huge amount of European trade, was shut overnight, but has now reopened.

Flooded fish market in Hamburg, 6 Dec 13
Residents of Hamburg woke up to find the historic fish market flooded

Flooded street in Helsingborg, southern Sweden, 6 Dec 13
Helsingborg, southern Sweden: The coast road was flooded

Collapsed house at Hemsby, UK
The storm at Hemsby, eastern England, pushed several homes off the cliff

Emergency workers attend the scene of a fatal truck accident as a lorry sits on top of two cars near Bathgate, Scotland
In Scotland, a truck driver was killed when his vehicle blew over.

Traffic jam in snow at Olpe, Germany, 6 Dec 13
Heavy snow caused traffic chaos at Olpe, near Germany's industrial Ruhr region

Traffic jam near Ulricehamn, Sweden, 6 Dec 13
There were also traffic jams in snowy parts of southern Sweden

Hamburg has experienced its biggest tidal surges since the 1960s. The city's fish market and some streets by the river Elbe were flooded.  The river there rose 20ft above its average level, and the authorities are warning of a fresh surge expected on Friday evening. There was also limited flooding in the Netherlands - officials say the sea dykes withstood the onslaught.

A woman died in Denmark after a truck flipped over and crushed her. In Scotland a truck driver was killed on Thursday when his vehicle was blown over near Edinburgh. A man was crushed by a falling tree in Nottinghamshire, central England.

On Thursday winds of up to 142 mph battered Scotland. England's east coast experienced its worst tidal surge in 60 years, while in north Wales residents had to be rescued by lifeboat crews.
Two sailors were reportedly swept overboard from a ship 14 miles off the southern Swedish coast, and air-sea rescue services failed to find them.

In the low-lying Netherlands, the Eastern Scheldt storm surge barrier was closed off for the first time in six years. Dutch authorities said they had issued the highest possible flood warning for four areas in the north.

In Schleswig-Holstein, north Germany, many rail services have been halted. Fallen trees are littering railway lines.

Our angry planet is sending another impassioned message to all the fools who attended the United Nations Climate Change Conference to get their shit together. They bickered and argued and made a couple of feeble concessions. They agreed to start reducing emissions in 2015. Geez Louise that is barely a drop in the bucket. But even if we were to convince everyone to stop cutting down trees, start re-foresting the planet, switch to environmentally friendly fuels and energy production methods, and generally try to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, from this moment on, the Earth's temperature  would still likely continue to climb. It could take as long as 1,000 years after a complete halt of greenhouse gas emissions for environmental conditions to return to pre-industrial levels. Be prepared for more very extreme weather.

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