Storm Ciara: Travel chaos as high winds moves to Europe

Flights cancelled as north of the continent hit by winds of up to 150kph

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Storms lashed Britain and northern Europe on Sunday with heavy rain and hurricane force winds forcing the cancellation of flights, train services and sports events.

More than 200 flood warnings were issued across the UK while residents in the town of Appleby-in-Westmorland in north-west England battled to protect their homes after a river burst its banks.

Transport was affected across Britain with the weather bureau recording a maximum wind speed of 150kph at Aberdaron in Wales.

Some domestic and international flights from airports including Heathrow and Gatwick were cancelled, while others were diverted to ensure they landed safely.

The pilot of one flight took four attempts to land at Gatwick on Sunday morning because of the winds from Storm Ciara.

Etihad cancelled 29 flights at Heathrow Airport on Sunday, while Emirates airline cancelled 16.

But a British Airways 747 set a record for the fastest flight by a conventional airliner from New York to London because of powerful tailwinds.

The harsh conditions were also felt in mainland Europe. In the Netherlands the storm led to around 120 flights to and from Amsterdam's Schiphol airport, one of Europe's largest, to be axed or delayed as it blew in off the Atlantic.

In Germany, where Ciara was named Sabine, about 180 flights to and from Frankfurt airport, or about 15 per cent of all planned flights, were cancelled.

Train services were also affected. German railway operator Deutsche Bahn warned of severe disruptions and said it would stop long-distance train travel across the country on Sunday evening.

Fierce winds also knocked out power to thousands of homes in Ireland and France, while Luxembourg said that schoolchildren could stay at home on Monday. Germany also cancelled long-distance train services.

The UK’s rail network suffered significant disruption with fallen power lines, trees and even trampolines blocking tracks. Train operators warned people not to travel unless they had to.

In London, one crane on a construction site was bent double by the winds while a driver was stuck in his car for an hour in Flitwick, 70 kilometres north of the capital, after a tree crashed  on top of it.

All shipping in and out of the Port of Dover on the south coast were suspended because of the high seas, and the Humber Bridge in northern England was closed to all traffic for only the second time since it opened in 1981.

Sporting events were also hit in Britain, including Manchester City’s Premier League match against West Ham because of "extreme and escalating weather conditions". All professional Dutch soccer matches were cancelled.

London's eight royal parks, home to more than 170,000 trees, were closed and even the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, a major tourist draw, was cancelled due to the weather.