Storm Ciara: High winds lead to disruption across Europe

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Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Heavy rains have battered countries across Europe, including France

Severe warnings have been issued across parts of northern Europe as Storm Ciara sweeps across the continent.

High winds and heavy rain continue to batter areas of Ireland, France, Belgium, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg and Scandinavia.

The storm led to travel disruptions and the cancellation of several public events over the weekend.

Forecasters predict it will continue to move south-eastwards, bringing gusts of over 90mph (145km/h) in some areas.

In Ireland, around 14,000 homes and businesses were left without power as the country begins counting ballots for its general election.

Organisers also cancelled an opening ceremony to mark the beginning of Galway's year as the European Capital of Culture, citing public safety.

Over in Denmark, a woman and a child had to be rescued from the North Sea after they were swept into the water while walking along a pier.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption High winds have also brought severe disruption around the continent

France issued amber warnings - its second-highest level - for 42 regions of the country, including Normandy, the Ardennes and Lorraine.

People in the country have been warned to stay away from coastal and wooded areas, several cities have closed off parks and seaside promenades.

Forecasters in Norway, meanwhile, have issued red warnings - their highest risk level - for some southern and western areas due to concerns about high seas.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Severe weather has disrupted trains and flights in several major European cities

These same concerns have also led to the suspension of ferry services in the English Channel.

Gale force winds grounded hundreds of flights in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. Frankfurt, Brussels and Amsterdam Schipol were among the airports affected.

German railway firm Deutsche Bahn also warned of severe disruptions in the north of the country.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Storm Ciara is known as Elsa in Norway, and Sabine in Germany and Switzerland

Storm Ciara - known as Elsa in Norway, and Sabine in Germany and Switzerland - is the most severe storm to hit the continent so far this year.

In recent years, several national forecasters have adopted the practice of naming large storms to help the public monitor severe weather.

But while Irish, Dutch, French and British have agreed to adopt the same names, Germany and Switzerland have their own separate agreement, as does Norway.

For the UK, this year's storm names have already been chosen, with Dennis next in line.

Have you been affected by Storm Ciara? Share your experiences by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk .

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