Severe storm batters US southeast, Europe | Hindustan Times
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Severe storm batters US southeast, Europe

A violent storm packing winds up to 100 mph (160 kph) battered parts of western Europe on Wednesday. In the US, snow, freezing rain and strong winds added to record-shattering cold that had much of the eastern part in its grip.

world Updated: Jan 03, 2018 22:45 IST
Agencies
A woman walks past a steam grate in Washington, DC. A winter storm is travelling up the east coast overnight with significant accumulation of snow possible.
A woman walks past a steam grate in Washington, DC. A winter storm is travelling up the east coast overnight with significant accumulation of snow possible.(AFP Photo)

Winter storms swept up the US Southeast toward New England on Wednesday as snow, freezing rain and strong winds added to record-shattering cold that had much of the eastern United States in its grip. in Europe, violent storm packing winds up to 100 mph (160 kph) played havoc on transport, derailing trains in Switzerland and Germany and leaving hundreds of thousands of homes across France, Switzerland, Britain and Ireland without power.

In the US, the wintry mix and low wind chills could cause widespread power outages and leave roads icy, making commuting treacherous for millions of Americans from northern Florida to southern Virginia, the National Weather Service said in a series of warnings.

Some schools and universities in those states were closed on Wednesday in anticipation of the storm. Many flights out of the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport in Georgia and Tallahassee Airport in Florida were cancelled.

The weather service said its Tallahassee office measured a snow and sleet accumulation of 0.1 inch (2.5mm) on its roof early in the day, the first time Florida’s capital has had snow in nearly 30 years.

The service said travel in northeastern Florida was likely to be difficult and dangerous.

Two to 3 inches of snow was expected in northeastern Florida, coastal Georgia and South Carolina, according to early morning forecasts, said weather service meteorologist Bob Oravec.

Some Florida and Georgia residents shared images on social media of light snow accumulating.

On Tuesday, Florida Governor Rick Scott urged residents in the north of the state to brace themselves for the cold. He said cold weather shelters have either opened or would be opened in 22 of the state’s 67 counties.

Some coastal areas of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia could ultimately receive up to 6 inches (15 cm) of snow, along with an accumulation of ice, while parts of New England could see 12 to 15 inches (30-38 cm) of snow and wind gusts of 35 miles per hour (55 km per hour) by the end of week, the weather service said.

1 dead, 15 injured in western Europe

In western Europe, a violent storm packing winds up to 100 mph (160 kph) derailed trains, toppled trees and halted flights. Authorities said one person was killed and at least 15 others were injured in France and Switzerland.

Several people were injured when a train was blown off the tracks near Lenk, a town south of Bern, the Swiss capital, local media reported. In western Germany, a train derailed near Luenen when it crashed into a tree that had fallen onto the tracks, according to the dpa news agency. No injuries were reported.

The storm forced the cancellation of flights at Zurich and Basel airports and toppled a truck on a Swiss highway. Thousands of households at Lake Zurich were left without power, and firefighters were called to help with toppled trees blocking streets and flooding due to heavy rain.

Sea foam whipped up by high winds in Blackpool northwest England as a storm lashed Britain with violent storm-force winds of up to 100mph, leaving thousands of homes without power and hitting transport links. (AP Photo)

Swiss police say several people were stuck inside a cable car that halted in the ski resort of Pizol in the Swiss Alps. St. Gallen police said several rescue teams were trying to get them out. High winds prompted ski lifts to stop running at other Swiss resorts as well.

In England, the storm brought hail and lightning. Overturned vehicles forced officials to close portions of three major highways. Some bridges were also shut down.

In the Paris region, a falling tree hit a car and seriously injured one person, while another resident was seriously hurt falling from a building. In all, the Interior Ministry said 15 people in France were injured, with four in serious condition, following accidents caused by high winds.

Strong winds also caused delays at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, as extra precautions were taken to safely get travelers into aircraft.

In Germany, highways near Duisburg and Juelich in the west were partially blocked because of toppled trees and flooding. The zoos in Munich and Augsburg in Bavaria closed for the day and the railway going up Germany’s tallest mountain, the Zugspitze, was shut down because of the storm.

In neighboring Austria, a ski jumping practice in Innsbruck was cancelled due to the strong winds and snow.

(With inputs from Reuters and AP)