Northern Europe Braces for Gale-Force Winds and Extensive Floods

By Jan M. Olsen | October 20, 2023

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Much of northern Europe braced for stormy weather and gale-force winds from the east on Thursday, with authorities warning that floods could cause major problems in inland Danish waters, in the Baltic Sea and in the north of the U.K.

Danish broadcaster TV2 reported that the region would likely see the worst flooding in 110 years, and the Danish Meteorological Institute said waves could reach 4 meters (13 feet) along east-facing coasts.

In the U.K., the Met Office issued a rare red alert — the highest level of weather warning — for parts of Scotland, warning of “exceptional rainfall” Thursday and Friday and the possibility of a “danger to life” from extensive flooding. The last red alert in the U.K. was issued in 2020.

Officials warned Scots to stay away from coastal areas.

In Ireland, the storm — named Storm Babet by U.K. officials — brought flooding to several towns and villages, with some areas remaining under water and without power Thursday. Soldiers helped with evacuation measures in the town of Midleton in County Cork, where more than 100 properties were flooded.

In Denmark, residents scrambled to place sandbags along exposed areas. In Assens on the central island of Funen, the Danish Emergency Management Agency was deploying huge rubber tubes in the harbor to counter rising water levels, TV2 said. Southern Denmark police urged people along the east coast to leave exposed areas if the weather predictions remain, saying cottages, harbors and other places could be flooded.

The southeastern Danish town of Koege wrote on its Facebook page that emergency workers were busy filling sandbags and urged citizens to “avoid unnecessary baths, dishes, laundry and other water-intensive activities,” saying “the municipality’s treatment plant was at risk of being overloaded.”

Police in the area warned that roads may be blocked, urged people to secure valuables and advised against sleeping on their boats in the harbors, saying that “if something happens, emergency services cannot get to them,” police spokesperson Brian Bang-Rasmussen said.

Copenhagen`s airport and the Danish national rail company warned of cancellations and delays Friday because of bad weather.

Several ferry lines between Danish islands were suspended, as were ferries to Rostock in northern Germany and to Oslo.

Swedish meteorologists also issued a warning for the south coast from Friday evening and Saturday. They said that the water level in southern parts of Sweden may reach its highest level since the 1990s.

In Germany, authorities warned of high water in bays in Schleswig-Holstein, south of the Denmark border, until mid-Saturday.

Authorities also warned of high water in the next two days on the Baltic Sea coast of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany’s northernmost state, with water levels of up to 2 meters (6.6 feet) above average possible in the inlet where the city of Flensburg is located. Some ferries to the North Sea islands of Foehr and Amrum were delayed or canceled, German news agency dpa reported.

Norwegian meteorologists said a strong low-pressure area over Great Britain combined with high pressure over northern Scandinavia was creating strong east- northeasterly winds, with “very strong gusts” expected to hit southern Norway from the east.

Top photo: Residents and members of the the Emergency Management Agency prepare for the heavy wind and increased water levels, at Kelstrup Strand, in Haderslev southern, Denmark Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023. Southern Scandinavia and northern Germany braced for bad weather with gale force winds over the next days. Authorities said Thursday that floods could cause major problems in inner Danish waters and in the Baltic Sea. (Claus Fisker/Ritzau Scanpix via AP)

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