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1.2M without power as massive storm Ciarán pummels Western Europe. And it’s not over.


At least seven people were killed, more than 1 million households were in the dark, and trees were toppled as Storm Ciarán brought winds of over 100 mph to Western Europe overnight into Thursday.

Winds of up to 118 mph battered the northern tip of France’s Atlantic coast, blowing out windows and uprooting trees that blocked roads, and massive waves slammed French ports and shorelines.

More than 1 million French households were without power Thursday, and electrical company Enedis said 3,000 workers were needed to restore services. Thousands more people lost power in the United Kingdom.

The storm snarled transportation systems: Local trains across western France canceled service, and all roads in the Finistère region of Brittany were closed Thursday morning. Several trains and flights were canceled in Spain.

“We see how roads can be fatal in these circumstances,” Transport Minister Clement Beaune told broadcaster France-Info.

Hundreds of schools were shuttered Thursday in Cornwall and Devon, coastal communities in southwest England where flooding and downed trees blocked commutes.

Ciarán will continue to affect Western Europe through the end of the week, and the heaviest rainfall was expected across northwestern Spain, the southwestern and northern coast of France and parts of northern Italy, according to AccuWeather.

Officials say 7 killed in storm

Officials in multiple Western European countries said at least seven people were killed in the storm as of Thursday.

A truck driver in northern France was killed when his truck was hit by a tree, Beaune said. In Spain, emergency services in Madrid said a woman died when a tree fell on her Thursday. A tree that fell in Ghent, Belgium, killed two people at a park, including a 5-year-old. Also in Ghent, a 64-year-old German tourist was killed by a falling branch.

Another falling tree fatally injured a 46-year-old woman in the Harz mountains in northern Germany. A 70-year-old man in Normandy died in a fall from his balcony; a local news report quoted a prosecutor saying he appeared to be closing his shutters when he fell around noon on Thursday during a gust of wind.

Several others have been injured, including at least seven emergency workers in western and northern France, officials said.

What’s causing the severe wind storm?

A branch of the jet stream – a consistent band of strong wind high above the Earth’s surface flowing west to east – heading toward northern Europe is causing the weather, meteorologist and Yale Climate Connections writer Bob Henson told The Associated Press.

The band is arcing southward from its origin point high above eastern Canada, intensifying a low-pressure area and spawning the storm, he said. The storm is caused by an interaction between what’s going on near the surface and a few miles above ground.

Henson said Ciarán was looking like a “once-in-every-few-years storm” that could turn into a “once-in-a-generation storm.”

Damage from heavier rainfall associated with such storms and rising sea levels are a result of climate change, Friederike Otto, of Imperial College London’s Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment, told the outlet.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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