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Northern Europe battered by 3rd major storm as deaths across continent rise

Northern Europe was battered by the third major storm in five days, with heavy rains and high winds on Sunday and Monday killing at least two more people, disrupting travel and prompting hundreds of flood alerts across a region still recovering from last week's hurricane-force winds.

Region still recovering from hurricane-force winds hit with more turbulent weather

Northern Europe was battered by the third major storm in five days, with heavy rains and high winds on Sunday and Monday killing at least two more people, disrupting travel and prompting hundreds of flood alerts across a region still recovering from last week's hurricane-force winds.

Storm Franklin pushed in from the North Atlantic on Sunday afternoon even as crews worked to clear fallen trees and restore power to thousands of customers hit by storms Dudley and Eunice last week. Heavy rains and high winds swept across Northern Ireland and northern England before moving on to France. England's environment agency issued more than 300 flood warnings and alerts and train operators urged people not to travel.

In France, a couple in their 70s died Sunday after their car was swept into the English Channel near a small town in Normandy. The couple had called for help but it did not reach them in time.

"With the wind, the car skidded," Herve Bougon, mayor of Bricqueville-Sur-Mer, told the Ouest-France newspaper. "It was pushed onto its side as it sank into the water."

At least 14 people have died across Europe during a week of wild weather that meteorologists say is being fuelled by an unusually strong jet stream over the North Atlantic. The storms have left hundreds of thousands of people without power and triggered local flooding and evacuations as high winds ripped the roofs off buildings.

A person braces against a traffic sign pole amid high winds in Nieuwpoort, Belgium, on Monday. (Kurt Desplenter/BELGA MAG/AFP/Getty Images)

Gusts of up to 140 km/h were recorded late Sunday on the Isle of Wight after the U.K.'s weather service warned that Storm Franklin would produce widespread winds of 96 km/h to 112 km/h. A gust of 196 km/h, provisionally the highest ever recorded in England, was measured Friday on the Isle of Wight as Storm Eunice hit the region. Hurricane-level winds start at 119 km/h.

Damage in Germany estimated at $2.3B Cdn

In Germany, the latest storm was less severe than its immediate predecessors, but it still brought down trees and ripped the roof off a house in Herdecke, near Dortmund. Two drivers drove into a fallen tree in Belm, in northern Germany, and were taken to the hospital.

Official weather warnings in Germany, where the latest storm is known as Antonia, were lifted on Monday, though disruption to transport continued in northern parts of the country.

Experts said the weather toll for the week has been extensive for the environment as well. The German Aerospace Center, DLR, says the current storms hitting northern Europe would likely result in widespread damage to already weakened forests.

Fallen trees lay on the ground in the Everstorf Forest in Germany on Monday. The Association of German Foresters estimates the storm damage in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania at half a million solid cubic meters. (Jens Buettner/The Associated Press)

In a study released Monday, the government-funded agency said satellite data shows massive forest loss due to drought and bark beetle infestation between 2018 and 2021. These factors — which are exacerbated by global warming — weaken trees, making them vulnerable, DLR said.

"The current storm situation across Germany will probably again lead to the need to remove damaged trees in many areas," it said.

Insurance broker Aon estimated the insured damage in Germany from the successive storms at 1.6 billion euros ($2.3 billion Cdn). The Dutch insurers' association estimated that the three storms caused at least 500 million euros ($722 million Cdn) of damage across the Netherlands.

A car is seen crushed under a fallen tree after a storm in Schwerin, Germany, on Monday. (Jens Buettner/dpa/The Associated Press)

Despite preparations and warning by weather authorities, "The February storms have sparked a record number of claims and an enormous damages bill," said Richard Weurding, general director of the Dutch Association of Insurers.

The storms blew roofs off buildings and uprooted trees across the Netherlands, killing four people on Friday as Eunice lashed the country. Insurers warned that more damage could still be to come with strong winds forecast in coming days.

In Denmark, the storm uprooted trees and disrupted rail services in and around Copenhagen, the capital. Sweden saw heavy snowfall that shut down buses in its capital city of Stockholm.

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