'Hurricane' winds batter Europe
Hurricane-force winds from a storm dubbed 'Xaver' have blasted towards mainland Europe, causing tidal surges and flooding across parts of the UK.PT1M2S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2yun1 620 349 December 6, 2013
Berlin: Hurricane-force winds cut transport and power in northern Britain and blasted towards mainland Europe, as meteorologists warned Storm Xaver could be the worst to hit the continent in years.
British authorities said the Thames Barrier, designed to protect London from flooding during exceptional tides, would shut on Thursday night and warned of "the most serious coastal tidal surge for over 60 years in England". Prime Minister David Cameron called two emergency meetings to discuss strategy.
Two people were killed in Britain as the nation's weather office measured winds of up to 225 km per hour (140 mph) when the storm slammed Scotland and parts of England.
Waves lash against the ferry pier on the North Sea coast in Germany. Photo: AP
A lorry driver was killed and four people injured when his vehicle overturned and collided with other vehicles in West Lothian, Scotland, police said, while a second man died near Nottingham in central England when he was hit by a falling tree.
More than 100,000 homes were left without power across Britain, 80,000 of them in Scotland, according to energy company SSE.
North Sea oil and gas producers including ConocoPhillips, Maersk Oil, and Statoil cut production and evacuated staff from some platforms.
A woman and her dog are rescued by the RNLI or Royal National Lifeboat Institute, from floods as heavy seas and high tides sweep across the country, in Rhyl, Wales. Photo: AP
All train services in Scotland were cancelled on Thursday morning due to debris on the tracks but services were slowly resuming by afternoon.
Lifeboat crews were called out to rescue people from flooded homes in Rhyl in north Wales on Thursday morning.
Low-lying coastal areas of eastern England were waiting for the storm to hit on Thursday evening, with the Environment Agency issuing 41 severe flood warnings, the highest category.
People take photos on the promenade as severe gale force winds hit Blackpool, England. Photo: AP
Police were advising more than 15,000 people to evacuate east coast areas vulnerable to tidal surges, although sea defences have been strengthened since storms and flooding killed hundreds on the North Sea coast in 1953.
Hamburg on alert
Germany's northern port of Hamburg was preparing for a direct hit, which some forecasters said could be as powerful as a storm and flood in the city in 1962 that killed 315.
Waves batter the North Sea coast at the ferry dock in Dagebuell, northern Germany. Photo: AP
Hamburg airport cancelled all flights and many schools and Christmas markets were closed. Ferries to Germany's North Sea islands were kept in port and some industrial plants closed.
"The truly dangerous thing about this storm is that the winds will continue for hours and won't let up," said Andreas Friedrich, a German weather service meteorologist. "The danger of coastal flooding is high."
Mr Friedrich said people were being advised to stay indoors because of the risk of trees being toppled or roofs blown off. An extreme weather warning was issued for the northern states of Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein, Lower Saxony and Bremen.
Huge storm batters Europe
A local surfer rides the waves as heavy storm reached the coast of Hanstholm in Northern Jutland. Photo: REUTERS/Henning Bagger
In Denmark, railroad company DSB said it would stop operating most trains. Airline Alsie Express cancelled all domestic flights and the 6.8-km (four-mile) Great Belt Bridge, which includes a 1.6-km suspension bridge section, was closed.
Trains in the northern Netherlands were halted, Dutch Railways said. At Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport 50 flights were cancelled, a spokeswoman said, adding there could be further cancellations.