World News

Storm Eleanor Batters Europe

Posted January 3, 2018 12:59 p.m. EST

LONDON — Storm Eleanor tore through Europe on Wednesday with winds of up to 100 mph, bringing lightning and heavy rain, battering houses with hail, flooding streets and uprooting trees.

The storm — named Burglind in Austria, Germany and Switzerland — arrived in tandem with a cold front, hitting Ireland before passing through Britain and on to the Continent. Travelers were delayed, and the storm was expected to be felt as far north as the Baltics and as far south as Italy.

Weather warnings were the order of the day, with forecasts of violent winds, mostly in coastal areas. Workers raced to restore power to thousands of homes, and to clear highways and train tracks of trees and overturned vehicles.

The storm claimed at least one life, a skier in the French Alps who was hit by a falling tree. High tides threatened coastal areas and forced authorities in London to close the Thames Barrier to protect the city.

Christmas was generally mild in Europe, but the region has endured severe weather on several occasions this season. Storm Ophelia in October was one of the most powerful ever recorded in the northeastern Atlantic.

In Paris, the Eiffel Tower was closed for part of Wednesday, as were the city’s parks, because of concerns about falling branches.

As winds and rain hit Ireland’s Atlantic coast, flash flooding was reported in the streets of Galway. On the city’s waterfront, a car was filmed traveling through knee-deep water as waves splashed over a harbor wall.

“The safest thing I could do was drive through that,” Selina Callaghan, the driver of the car, told the Press Association, adding that she had come out to the coast to watch the waves. “If I didn’t do what I did, I’d probably be dead.”

But, for all of the howling winds and rain-swamped streets, there was a sense among many Europeans that it could have been much worse. As they woke up from a sleepless night, complaints on social media about of the effects of the storm on their homes were often tinged with a touch of humor. Others shared spectacular images.

As the winds swept toward Central Europe, the hassles for travelers reached Switzerland and Germany, where a regional train in North Rhine-Westphalia derailed after it hit a fallen tree. In Bern, which lies between Geneva and Zurich, the wind uprooted a tall Christmas tree in front of the city’s main railway station. Heavy snowfall in the mountains of Austria came with a warning of avalanches.

Amid the spectacular images, authorities reiterated that the situation was serious. “The storm is a sight best watched from afar,” the French Ministry of Interior said on Twitter. “Don’t be reckless, don’t drive near the coast and don’t underestimate the power of waves.”