Netherlands storm. (Photo: AP)
Berlin — Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport has suspended all flights and the Dutch national rail service halted all trains as a powerful storm lashes the Netherlands, toppling trees and blowing over tractor trailers, and causing traffic chaos.
Schiphol tweeted shortly after 11:00 that it was halting all takeoffs and landings "until further notice" because of the severe weather conditions. Flag carrier KLM already had scrapped more than 200 flights before the storm.
National broadcaster NOS reported that the main railway station in The Hague was closed because of fears that parts of its new glass roof would be blown off by Thursday's storm.
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Gale-force winds gusting at up to 110 km/h have been recorded in Britain, where thousands of homes in southeast England have been left without electricity.
The wind has damaged some of the overhead power lines that supply trains and brought trees crashing onto the tracks, causing severe delays for thousands of commuters. Some service to London's King's Cross station has been disrupted.
Driving conditions in parts of Scotland are extremely hazardous, with officials advising motorists to stay off the roads because of blustery winds, heavy snow and icy conditions.
Officials at the Met Office forecasting service say the strong winds started to subside on Thursday morning, 18 January. Spokesman Charlie Powell says that "In the last couple of hours the wind speeds have already started to come down significantly."
Videos and images shared on Twitter show the intensity of the wind in parts of Europe. See footage of wind blowing off a roof in Amsterdam:
Airports, ports, schools closed
Dutch flag carrier KLM has cancelled 220 flights to and from Amsterdam's Schiphol airport.
KLM and Schiphol warned of disruptions caused by Thursday's strong winds with the airport reporting scores of cancelled or delayed flights.
The Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute issued a Code Red, the most severe weather warning, for large parts of the country.
Trains were also taking a battering, with many delays and cancellations, including between the towns of Gouda and Alphen aan den Rijn due to what the national rail service called a collision between a train and a trampoline. The service had no further details of the collision. There were no reports of injuries.
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The port of Ghent has also been closed. Belgium set of its code orange alert — the second highest storm warning — for the north of the country early on Thursday and tram traffic had to be halted in parts of the capital Brussels, where several public parks had to be closed.
Trees were uprooted in several cities. Traffic at the international airport of Zaventem was largely uninterrupted.
Schools remain closed in many parts of Germany. Authorities warned Germans, especially in western and northern Germany, to not leave their homes on Thursday if possible.
German Railways said on its website that many trains would decrease their speed because of the storm and that delays are expected.
Firefighters and police responded late on Wednesday, 17 January, to numerous car crashes in northern and southern Germany because of heavy snowfall and slippery roads.
German news agency dpa reported that police say that there were crashes "every other minute" on highways between Wilhelmshaven and Westerstede in northern Germany.
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