Meteorologists warned on Thursday that northern Europe could be hit by a series of storms over the coming days after strong wind swept across the region overnight, killing at least five people, bringing down power lines and causing widespread travel delays.
Train service was halted in Scotland, Wales, parts of England and the Netherlands because of falling trees and power lines during Storm Dudley.
Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport warned travellers that flights would be delayed because of the high winds.
Lufthansa and other airlines also cancelled flights due to the storm, which was named Ylenia in Germany.
The Dutch rail company, NS, said it was cancelling all domestic and international trains on Friday from 2pm as the country’s weather service issued a warning for high winds.
“It is possible that trees will blow on to tracks and cause dangerous situations,” the service said.
Two motorists in Germany, aged 37 and 55, were killed after trees fell on to their cars in Bad Bevensen, south of Hamburg, and in the Harz region south-west of Berlin.
A car passenger died near Osnabrueck after the vehicle’s trailer was blown into the path of a lorry.
Two people died in the Polish city of Krakow, where strong wind caused a building crane to collapse.
German rail company Deutsche Bahn said it halted long-distance connections in seven northern states early pn Thursday.
Deutsche Bahn spokesman Achim Stauss said there was “considerable” damage to tracks and power lines.
“I fear travellers will need to put up with disruptions for a long time,” Mr Stauss said.
The country’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, closed schools as a precaution, and authorities in some other states said pupils could stay home if they wanted.
Meteorologists said they measured wind speeds of up to 135kph in low-lying areas of Germany.
Experts said advances in weather forecasting and storm defences have helped to prevent serious disasters such as the deadly floods that hit Hamburg 60 years ago on Thursday, killing more than 300 people.
Large ships were banned from sailing up the Lower Elbe River that connects the port of Hamburg to the sea.
Videos posted on social media showed passengers running for cover after a wave smashed the windows of a commuter ferry on the Elbe. Three people suffered minor injuries, German news agency DPA reported.
In the Czech Republic, hundreds of thousands of people were temporarily without electricity after trees fell on power lines. Thousands of homes were also left without power in Britain and Germany.
Two domestic Lot flights in Poland, from Bydgoszcz and Krakow to Warsaw, had to be rerouted and landed in Hungary’s capital, Budapest, to avoid strong winds. They refuelled and were later able to proceed to Warsaw.
Cyclonic weather over the North Atlantic is expected to send more storms towards Europe in the coming days.
Germany’s national weather service predicted that Storm Zeynep, known as Storm Eunice in Britain, will batter northern Europe on Friday.
Britain’s weather agency issued the highest level of alert for Friday, warning of “flying debris resulting in danger to life".
It said roofs could be blown off buildings as Eunice is expected to produce winds of up to 150kph on the coast and 130kph inland.
Forecasters say the red weather warning covers the south-west England coastline and southern coast of Wales.
More than 100 schools say they will close on Friday and Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the army was on standby to help those affected.
The country’s Environment Agency issued a warning for flooding from high waves and storm surges.