Storm Sweeps Northern Europe, Causing Damage and Delays

BERLIN (AP) -- Meteorologists warned Thursday that northern Europe could be battered by a series of storms over the coming days after strong winds swept across the region overnight, toppling trees, downing power lines and causing widespread delays to rail and air traffic.

Train services were halted in Scotland and parts of England as trees and power lines were felled by the storm, named Storm Dudley by Britain's Met Office weather service.

Rail services were delayed in parts of the Netherlands due to trees falling on tracks. Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport warned travelers that flights would be delayed due to the high winds.

German rail company Deutsche Bahn said it halted long-distance connections in seven northern states early Thursday. National carrier Lufthansa and other airlines also canceled several flights due to the storm, which was nicknamed Ylenia there.

Deutsche Bahn spokesman Achim Stauss said there was "considerable" damage to tracks and power lines.

"I fear travelers will need to put up with disruptions for a long time," he said.

The country's most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, closed schools as a precaution, and authorities in several other states said students could stay home if they wanted.

Meteorologists said they measured winds speed of up to 135 kilometers per hour (84 miles per hour) in low-lying areas of Germany.

Experts noted that advances in weather forecasting and storm defenses have helped prevent serious disasters such as the deadly floods which hit Hamburg exactly 60 years ago, killing more than 300 people.

Still, authorities in neighboring Denmark warned of elevated water levels along the North Sea coast. Large ships were banned from sailing up the Lower Elbe river that connects the port of Hamburg to the sea.

In the Czech Republic, hundreds of thousands of people were temporarily without electricity after trees fell on power lines. Thousands of homes were also left without power in Britain and Germany.

In the Polish city of Krakow, strong winds cause a construction crane collapse, injuring four people, two of them seriously, according to Radio Zet.

Two domestic LOT flights, from Bydgoszcz and Krakow to Warsaw, had to be rerouted and landed in Budapest to avoid the strong winds over Poland. They refueled and were later able to proceed to Warsaw.

Cyclonic weather over the north Atlantic is expected to send further storms toward Europe in the coming days.

Germany's national weather service DWD predicted that Storm Zeynep, known as Storm Eunice in Britain, will hit northern Europe on Friday.

The U.K. Met Office warned there could be a danger to life from flying debris and roofs could be blown off buildings as winds are expected to hit 150 kph (95 mph) on the coast and 130 kph (80 mph) inland. The country's Environment Agency issued a warning of potential flooding from high waves and storm surges.