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Storm Eunice: five French departments on orange alert for high winds

Regional train services suspended and road disruption expected across north, Normandy and Brittany. People are advised to stay at home as much as possible

Five French departments are on orange alerts for high winds and strong waves Pic: Météo France / LouisLotterPhotography / Shutterstock

[Update February 18 at 16:50 - Winds of up to 161km/h have been recorded in certain places along France's northwestern coastline and Channel ferry crossings were temporarily suspended earlier today. 'No major damage' has been found yet, SNCF says. Police in Wimereux (Pas-de-Calais) have been patrolling the seafront urging local people not to walk where they could be hit by a wave.]

Five French departments are under orange weather warning this morning (February 18) as Storm Eunice hits the north of the country. 

Many rail services across two regions are being suspended and people are advised to stay at home as much as possible and to secure items which may be blown away in their gardens. 

The departments on an orange weather alert for high winds and waves are: Nord, Pas-de-Calais, Somme, Seine-Maritime and Manche, which will begin to be affected more severely from 10:00 this morning.

The prefect of Manche has urged local residents to stay at home if possible.

In Brittany, four-metre-high waves are already crashing onto shore, and winds across the whole north west coastline are expected to reach 120km/h, especially on the Cotentin Peninsula, in Seine-Maritime and Somme.

It is in Pas-de-Calais and Nord that wind speeds are forecast to be highest, at 140km/h on the coast and 100-120km/h inland.

The storm comes at the same time as a high tidal coefficient of 91, meaning that the sea will be especially dangerous this morning and at midday.

SNCF services disrupted 

SNCF announced yesterday (February 17) that traffic would be “suspended from 12:00 on all TER lines in Nord, Pas-de-Calais and Somme because of the storm. The only exceptions are trains linking Paris to Amiens, Saint-Quentin, Laon and Beauvais.

TGV trains on high-speed lines will not be affected, but those which normally take older lines – including the Paris-Valenciennes and Paris-Dunkerque – will be suspended to respond to the risk of falling branches. 

In Normandy, train services will stop at 12:00, but Paris-Saint Lazare trains will still come as far as Caen, Rouen and Deauville-Trouville. 

The rail network is expected to be operating as normal on Saturday after the state of the lines had been checked and repairs potentially carried out on any damage caused, SNCF said.

Finally, Thalys trains between Paris and Brussels will still be running, but a company spokesperson has said that onward journeys from Brussels to the Netherlands have all been cancelled today.

Disruption is also likely to occur on roads in these departments, and the storm could also lead to problems with the electricity and telephone lines.

The train suspensions are in addition to trains being affected by strike action today.

Read more: Rail strike: Paris and south west trains ‘severely disrupted’

In France’s northerly departments, measures have also been taken to protect homeless people, with two sports halls being opened to migrants in Dunkirk, as well as a hangar in Calais.

Across the Channel in the UK and Ireland, red alerts have been issued for certain regions and millions of people have been told to stay at home. Fiv epeople have died as a reuslt of the storms in Europe.

After moving across to France from Britain, Storm Eunice is expected to rise towards Denmark. 

What should I do? 

Residents of northern France are encouraged to stay inside their homes and to secure any possessions which could be blown away by the wind. 

If you do have to go out, be careful of falling objects or branches. 

Those living on the coast should not go in the sea and should stay as far away from the shoreline as possible. 

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Winds of 140km/h expected as Storm Eunice hits France tomorrow

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