What we experienced yesterday was an active Atlantic low pressure system that had swung into western France bringing torrential rain and wind gusts of up to 172km/h.
The storm system had been gathering strength last week as it moved over the relatively warm waters of the western Atlantic. It made landfall along France’s northwest coast near Nantes during the early hours of yesterday morning and then headed southeast.
The impacts of the storm were felt from the Channel Isles to Barcelona, but the strongest winds and heaviest rain were concentrated around south-west France. Here, one million homes were without power as trees and power lines were downed. The national weather service in France, Meteo France, issued high wind warnings for 9 regions in the southwest of the country.
Although this type of active low pressure system is fairly common in winter, Saturday’s storm was described as the most damaging since the devastating storm of December 1999 that killed 88 people.
Finally the storm tracked southeastwards and cleared the southeast coast of France yesterday evening. It was then heading towards northern Italy and the Adriatic, although is was unlikely to be as damaging there, as it gradually lost power over the rugged terrain of northern France.
Our thoughts go out to the friends and families of those who suffered most; the four young people who died at the sports stadium, the 73 year old lady in Burgos, the sailor in Galicia, the two who were crushed by trees in Lugo and Barcelona and the man and woman who were killed in Alicante and Barcelona.