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Environment

Power cuts, oil spills and cancelled trains as Storm Joachim lashes France

media Breakers hit the shore of Quiberon as Storm Joachim hits Brittany Reuters/Stéphane Mahé

Rain and winds of up to 140 km per hour lashed France on Thursday night and nearly half the country was on alert on Friday morning as Storm Joachim passed over, heading for Switzerland and Belgium.

Over 300,000 households were without electricity on Friday in the west of the country and oil from a wrecked freighter was heading for the Brittany coast after a night of high winds and torrential rain.

Slideshow: Storm Joachim on Ouest-France.fr

The ERDF electricity company sent hundreds of personnel to restore power to homes without power Friday and the Blayais nuclear power station was on alert on Friday morning because high winds were expected.

Floating barrages were deployed around the TK Bremen, a Maltese boat carrying ballast, whose 19-strong crew was rescued by helicopter as its tanks sent a one-kilometre oil slick heading for the shore off the Morbihan region.

Thursday’s night’s storm damage included:

  • Flooding in the Pas-de-Calais, near the English Channel;
  • Nearly 400,000 homes without electricity overnight;
  • Several dozen people evacuated from their homes, mostly on the Atlantic coast;
  • Winds of 140km per hour hitting the west coast, slowing to 90-110km per hour inland;
  • Huge waves, especially on the west coast;
  • Rail traffic disrupted, especially in the Loire valley and Brittany;
  • Wild fire, spread by the wind, destroying 200 hectares of vegetation on the Mediterranean island of Corsica.

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Meteo France

Paris’s Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports warned of possible delays Friday because of winds of up to 110km per hour.

The weather service Météo France maintained an orange alert for 32 of the 101 departments, warning that there could be landslides in the Alps and high waves on the Mediterranean coast.

The park around the world-famous Versailles château was closed to visitors Friday, for fear of falling trees, although the palace was open. The Alsace city of Strasbourg was unable to open its picturesque Christmas market.

As the storm moved into Switzerland, three people were injured when a train was derailed.

Why Joachim?

The names of storms in Europe are chosen by Berlin’s Freie Universität because one of its students was the first to name storms in 1954.

Names have been earmarked for the period up to 2013.

A name beginning with J was chosen because J is the 12th letter of the alphabet and the storm is taking place in the year’s 12th month.

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