Paris / AFP
Tens of thousands of homes were without power in northwestern France early on Monday after the region was pounded overnight by winds gusting to hurricane force that also triggered flight cancellations and outages in southern England.
Seven counties, in Normandy and Brittany were placed on “orange” alert, the second highest in Meteo-France’s three-stage warning system.
At least 60,000 homes were without power, more than half of them in the French western peninsula of Brittany, electricity grid operator ERDF said.
Firemen across the two regions were called out more than 400 times, mainly to clear roads blocked by fallen trees and debris, emergency services said.
The strongest gusts were recorded on the Breton tourist island of Belle-Ile, of 150 kilometres (93 miles) per hour.
Coastal dwellers in three departments on the Atlantic â€”Finistere, Morbibhan and Loire-Atlantiqueâ€”were warned of storm-surge waves.
In Britain, the same weather systemâ€”dubbed “Storm Katie”â€”left a trail of disruption in its wake as it swept across southern England overnight, leaving debris and roadwork barriers strewn across London’s streets. Winds gusting to 170 kph an hour forced the cancellation of around 150 flights in and out of Britain and left around 2,000 homes without power.
Heathrow reported around 130 cancellations with other flights delayed or diverted to other airports.