storm ciaran 6 dead as u k and western europe lashed with rain and wind
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With winds expected to exceed 85 miles per hour in some areas, Britain’s weather agency issued its second-highest level of alert for parts of southern England.

A storm that battered northwestern France overnight lashed Britain and much of Western Europe on Thursday with heavy rains and strong winds that left at least six people dead.

The storm, given the name Ciarán (pronounced kee-RAHN), pummeled France’s Atlantic coast with record-breaking winds — gusts of about 120 miles per hour were recorded in parts of Brittany — that left at least one person dead and some 1.2 million customers without power.

As the storm moved north, falling trees killed at least one person in the Harz Mountains of Germany and another person in the eastern part of the Netherlands, according to the local German fire brigade and the Dutch broadcaster NOS. Heavy winds also ripped through Belgium, killing two people in the city of Ghent, the authorities said.

Spain was also battered by winds and rain. One woman was killed in Madrid, according to a spokesperson at the City Council emergencies department.

Britain’s weather agency issued an “amber warning,” its second-highest level of alert, for parts of southern England, saying that winds expected to exceed 85 m.p.h. in some areas could create a “danger to life.” The Coast Guard warned people to “stay away from the water’s edge,” and the Port of Dover temporarily suspended “all sailings” because of the adverse conditions.

Folkestone, England, on Thursday. The nearby port of Dover suspended “all sailings.”Gareth Fuller/Press Association, via Associated Press

In southwestern England, photos showed large waves crashing into the shore in Devon and downed trees blocking roads in Falmouth. The highway authorities in Kent, in southeastern England, said that numerous roads were closed because of fallen trees.

Aaron Waterer, 47, said that the branch of a downed tree had torn through the roof of his R.V. in Kent around 2 a.m. He told the BBC it was lucky that he had gotten out of bed to get water, as the branch landed “straight through the roof” where he had been asleep.

“I just didn’t know what to do — it was just shock,” he said. “I still don’t think it has sunk in that much. It’s just bizarre.”

In Jersey, one of the Channel Islands between France and England, schools were shuttered, the airport was closed and more than 80 people were evacuated from their homes as the local government declared the storm a “major incident.” Wind gusts of 93 m.p.h. were recorded there on Thursday morning, according to Britain’s weather agency, the Met Office.

“Storm Ciaran caused significant damage, brought down a huge number of trees, caused power cuts and blocked much of the Island’s road network,” the local government said in a post on social media. It added that schools would remain closed for a second day on Friday as the authorities worked to clear the roads — but offered “comparatively good” news in saying that widespread coastal flooding had been avoided, because high tide “wasn’t as bad as first feared.”

As of late-afternoon, more than 80 flood warnings remained in place around England.

Workers closing the Clarence Esplanade along the coast in Portsmouth, England, on Thursday.Andrew Matthews/Press Association, via Associated Press

The winds and heavy rains knocked out power in some parts of Britain, affecting about 5,000 properties in the southwest as of Thursday afternoon, according to National Grid, the country’s main electricity network operator. It said the southwestern coastal county of Cornwall was the worst affected. Power issues in southeastern England also briefly interrupted water supplies in some places, the local provider said in a statement.

The weather was also affecting travel. Southeastern Railways, which had warned of severe disruptions to its lines and urged travelers to work from home, said that fallen trees and debris had been blown onto the tracks. London North Eastern Railway also advised prospective travelers to stay home, saying in a statement that its services were disrupted.

Although it is difficult to attribute individual weather events directly to climate change, scientists say that a warming planet worsens extreme rainfall in many storms.

Two weeks ago, Storm Babet wreaked havoc on Scotland with heavy rains and widespread flooding that left at least three people dead.

Rachel Chaundler, Christopher F. Schuetze and Monika Pronczuk contributed reporting.

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