High Winds Batter Scotland as Hamburg Braces for Storm
Winds exceeding 100 miles an hour and heavy rain battered Scotland and parts of England, killing a truck driver and disrupting rail services as storms sweep across the North Atlantic and the North Sea.
Authorities issued severe flood warnings for northern parts of the U.K., while 7,000 people in Northern Ireland were left without power. ScotRail suspended all rail services. The airport in Hamburg, Germany’s main export hub, canceled more than 120 takeoffs and landings while authorities prepared for storm tides and monitored ships entering the Elbe estuary.
A low pressure system dubbed Xaver may reach hurricane force with wind speeds of more than 140 kilometers (87 miles) an hour as it traversed southern parts of the North Sea before reaching landfall on the northern German and Danish coast, according to the German Weather Service. Xaver may trigger as many as four storm tides in coastal areas and in Hamburg, the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency BSH said.
Water levels may rise 1.5 meters to 2 meters above the medium-high tide level in Hamburg at about 6 p.m. local time today, and rise another 3 meters to 3.5 meters tomorrow, said Sylvin Mueller-Navarra, a spokesman for BSH.
A truck driver died after his vehicle was blown on top of two cars west of Edinburgh at 8:10 a.m. local time, the BBC reported, citing Police Scotland. Fallen trees blocked roads and rail lines, and authorities urged all high-sided vehicles to avoid traveling or to pull over until the storm subsides.
Edinburgh and Glasgow airports advised passengers to check with airlines before flying because of cancellations.
Northern Ireland Electricity said 7,000 customers were without power, and outages were reported in central Scotland and the Highlands in addition to school closures.
BP Plc, ConocoPhilips and Talisman Sinopec Energy UK Ltd. evacuated more than 350 workers from North Sea oil platforms earlier in the week as a precautionary measure.
As Hamburg closed some of its flood gates ahead of the storm, fire services said they expect the area around the fish market, which attracts tens of thousands of visitors every week, to succumb to flooding when high tide hits later this evening. City officials closed Hamburg’s biggest fun fair, Dom, which attracted as many as 1.5 million people in its first week in November.
Deutsche Bahn AG canceled most cross-border train connections scheduled to run through northern Germany tonight and early tomorrow morning, it said on its website. Cancellations include services to Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Prague via Hamburg and Hanover.
Danish National rail operator DSB said it’s canceling train services, and several bridges were closed across the country. The Great Belt Bridge, the world’s third-largest suspension bridge, said on its website it was preparing to close as gusts reached 97 kilometers an hour in the area.
The heavy winds are boosting power generation, with wind output in the U.K. forecast to peak at a record 6,065 megawatts at 3 p.m. London time today, according to Bloomberg’s wind model. Current output is 2,693 megawatts or 6.1 percent of total supply, according to National Grid data.
The previous record was 6,057 megawatts, equivalent to 14 percent of supply on Nov. 29, which lead operators from RWE AG to SSE Plc to halt 7,872 megawatts of more expensive gas-fired power generation plants.
Wind power in Germany, Europe’s biggest power market, is set to reach a record 31,195 megawatts at 6 p.m. Berlin time, according to the Bloomberg model. The price of power for today fell 28 percent to 34.32 euros a megawatt-hour in an Epex Spot auction yesterday. Wind output is forecast to remain high with a peak of 30,024 megawatts at 6 a.m. tomorrow. Power for tomorrow is trading at 25 euros, the lowest since Nov. 8, according to broker data compiled by Bloomberg.
The last time northern Germany was hit by storm tides on a similar scale to the levels expected this week was in November 2007, when water levels rose 3.5 meters above the medium-high tide level in Hamburg, BSH’s Mueller-Navarra said.
Kyrill, which battered countries including the U.K., the Netherlands and Germany six years ago, didn’t cause major flooding as the heaviest winds struck the German coast three hours before high tide, he said.
“If Xaver strikes when water levels are low, the impact will be limited,” he said.
Still, memories of the North Sea Flood 51 years ago, which claimed more than 300 lives and devastated large parts of the city, remain etched in the minds of Hamburg’s citizens.
On the night of Feb. 16, 1962, storm tides breached dikes in more than 60 places, submerging one-fifth of the city, according to local records.
“You can’t compare it to the flood in 1962 as we had much less coastal protection back then and the impact of the storm was much more severe,” said BSH’s Mueller-Navarra.
Sabine Krueger, a meteorologist at Germany’s national weather service, said, while Xaver’s wind speeds may be comparable to Kyrill, its path is different.
“This time the extreme winds will make landfall from the North West, so it may push the high tide into the River Elbe and cause floods,” she said. Krueger expects winds to slow down at the weekend.
The Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, on its website, warned of “troublesome weather” ahead with a risk of storm winds of up to 117 kilometers an hour, mainly in the Scania and Halland provinces in southern parts of the country. There is also risk of heavy snowfall in the Svealand region, where Stockholm is located, it said. The winds may reach the island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea tomorrow.
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