St. Jude storm hammers UK, Netherlands, France

St. Jude storm was a hurricane-strength storm that battered the UK, the Netherlands, and France. Four deaths were reportedly due to The St. Jude storm and power was knocked out to thousands.

REUTERS/Toby Melville
Emergency services work at the scene of a fallen tree at Bath Road in Hounslow, west London October 28, 2013. Britain's strongest storm in a decade battered southern regions on Monday, forcing hundreds of flight cancellations, cutting power lines and disrupting the travel plans of millions of commuters.

A major storm with hurricane-force gusts lashed southern Britain, the Netherlands and parts of France on Monday, knocking down trees, flooding low areas and causing travel chaos. Four deaths were reported.

Weather forecasters say it's one of the worst storms to hit Britain in years. Gusts of 99 miles per hour (160 kph) were reported on the Isle of Wight in southern England, while gusts up to 80 mph hit the U.K. mainland.

UK Power Networks officials said up to 270,000 homes were without power. Flood alerts were issued for many parts of southern England and emergency officials said hundreds of trees had been knocked down by gusts.

London's Heathrow Airport, Europe's busiest, cancelled at least 130 flights and express trains between central London and Gatwick and Stansted airports were suspended. Huge waves prompted the major English port of Dover to close, cutting off ferry services to France.

Thousands of homes in northwestern France also lost electricity, while in the Netherlands several rail lines shut down, airport delays were reported. Dutch citizens were warned against riding their bicycles — a favored form of transport — because of the high winds, and Amsterdam's central railway station was shut down by storm damage.

Some English rail lines also closed Monday morning, and some roads were closed due to fallen trees and power lines. There were severe delays on many parts of the London Underground and London Overground trains were delayed several hours.

In Kent, police said a 17-year-old girl died after a tree fell onto the camper home she was sleeping in. Hertfordshire police said a man in his 50s was killed when a tree fell on a car in Watford. A teenage boy drowned Sunday after being swept to sea while playing in the surf at Newhaven.

Amsterdam police said a woman was killed when a tree fell on her in the city and advised people to stay indoors.

The storm has hurricane-force gusts but is not classified as a hurricane since it did not form over warm expanses of open ocean like the hurricanes that batter the Caribbean and the eastern United States, according to Britain's national weather service, the Met Office.

Britain does not get hurricanes because hurricanes are "warm latitude" storms that draw their energy from seas far warmer than the North Atlantic, the agency said.

The storm is not named and does not have an "eye" at its center as hurricanes typically do. But British media dubbed it the "St. Jude" storm because Monday, Oct. 28 is the feast day for Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and Lutherans to celebrate this saint of lost causes. On social networks it has been called stormageddon.

Sweden's Meteorological Institute upgraded its advisory Monday, warning that a "class 3" storm that could pose "great danger to the public" as it hits western and southern Sweden in the evening.

Still, the damage was less than feared in the 48 hours leading up to the storm, when the British press raised alarm bells about a possibly catastrophic storm.

British Airways said its long haul flights were expected to operate normally but domestic and European flights were operating on a reduced schedule with some cancellations. It said Gatwick and London City airport operations should not be affected.

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Cassandra Vinograd in London, Sarah DiLorenzo in Paris, Malin Rising in Stockholm and Michael C. Corder in Amsterdam contributed to this report.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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