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16 December 2011

RSOE EDIS World Event Reports

Extreme Weather in France on Friday, 16 December, 2011 at 11:13 (11:13 AM) UTC.

400,000 households were left without electricity, families were evacuated in the Vendée, Blayais nuclear power station in Gironde was on storm alert, trains were paralysed in Pays de la Loire and flights were cancelled as violent winds and rains lashed France. The storm, named Joachim, is expected to blow itself out by midnight tonight but it has wreaked havoc across the country with 49 departments on orange alert from Finistère to Corsica. People have been advised not to leave home if possible but if they have to go out to watch for falling trees and airborne debris. Violent gusts of up to 140kph on the Ile de Ré, 133kph at Pointe du Raz in Finistère, 126kph near Saint-Nazaire, 110kph at Chouilly in the Marne and 100kph in Lorraine and Doubs were recorded. In Brittany, 80,000 homes are without electricity in Morbihan - the worst-hit department - while EDF said Finistère has 25,000, Loire-Atlantique up to 40,000 and Vendée 30,000 as winds tore down power lines. Interior Minister Claude Guéant said up to 400,000 homes were affected.

Off the coast, a Maltese-registered freighter with 19 crew aboard ran aground between Lorient and Quimper and a one-kilometre long oil slick is being blown towards the shore. The crew were taken off by helicopter and floating pontoons were being deployed to stop oil spreading. On the railways people heading off for the start of the Christmas break have been affected as storm damage has stopped practically all trains in the Pays de la Loire because of debris on the tracks, including a grain silo on the Nantes-Angers line. SNCF has asked travellers to postpone or delay their journeys if possible. Trains are still running in Brittany with the Rennes-Paris and Brest-Lamballe lines open. Air services have also been hit with Air France cancelling nearly two dozen flights out of Nantes and Brest and services at Strasbourg also being affected. In Paris, Orly and Charles-de-Gaulle airports are expecting gusts of up to 120kph and say passengers should check on their flight status. Passengers may also be hit by a strike of security personnel at airports across the country. With memories of storm Xynthia which killed 30 people along the Vendée and Charente coast, pompiers helped evacuate around 50 residents from homes in low-lying areas north of Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez after fears that the nearby dunes would not provide enough protection from 10m waves battering the shore.

Extreme Weather in Switzerland on Friday, 16 December, 2011 at 11:23 (11:23 AM) UTC.

Switzerland is preparing itself for Storm Joachim, which is expected to cause strong gusts of wind of up to 150 kilometres an hour in some mountain areas. A low pressure system has been making its way down from northern France and Germany, and should reach its peak in Switzerland by the end of Friday morning. The Swiss national weather service told the Swiss News Agency that gusts at speeds of 120km/h had been measured in the Bernese Jura overnight. Also in the area, a train collided with a fallen tree. Around a dozen people were slightly injured. Boat services have been cancelled on Lake Geneva and officials have warned of the dangers at building sites. MeteoSwiss says Joachim will be “exceptional” but will not be as strong as Hurricane Lothar which swept across Europe in 1999, causing damage to property in Switzerland of around SFr600 million ($639 million) and damage to forests of SFr750 million.

Flash Flood in Philippines on Friday, 16 December, 2011 at 10:03 (10:03 AM) UTC.

Philippine disaster officials say at least three people have been killed in a flash flood as a late season tropical storm blew through the southern Mindanao region. Zamboanga del Norte provincial disaster officer Dennis Tenorio said Friday that an 80-year-old woman drowned in the flooded first floor of her home on the banks of the swollen Dipolog river in Polanco township early Thursday. He says a 30-year-old man and an 8-year-old boy also drowned. Weather bureau spokeswoman Venus Valdemoro says Tropical Storm Washi made landfall at 2:30 p.m. (06:30 GMT) Friday in Davao Oriental province's Banganga township, about 625 miles (1,000 kilometers) southeast of Manila. Back-to-back typhoons in September left more than 100 people dead.

Complex Emergency in Germany on Friday, 16 December, 2011 at 11:25 (11:25 AM) UTC.

Germany’s emergency services braced themselves Friday morning as the powerful winter storm “Joachim” struck the country from the west. There have already been massive power cuts across France. The storm raged across France on overnight, with the centre of the low pressure system reaching Paris at 3 am. Railway systems broke down in the Loire region. The storm also caused an oil spill from a stranded freighter on the coast of Brittany. The storm, dubbed “Joachim,” is expected to cut a swathe through Germany from Düsseldorf to Hannover to Berlin, but the strongest winds are expected to strike regions south of the centre of the storm. The Meteomedia weather service has already put out its highest alert for large areas of the states of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria. Meanwhile the Karlsruhe institute for meteorology said “Joachim” would bring heavy rainfall. The institute added that there would be winds of up to 200 kilometres an hour in the Alpine summits and snowfall could be expected in mountainous regions. According to the weathermen, the storm also heralds the end of the relatively mild temperatures that have been reigning in Germany this winter. Snow is expected in the lower regions of Germany during the weekend.

- RSOE