A powerful summer storm lashed the Netherlands and parts of Germany on Wednesday, killing at least two people, blowing trees onto houses and forcing one of Europe’s busiest airports to cancel or delay hundreds of flights.

The Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute issued its highest-level alert in three provinces as Storm Poly hit the country with heavy rain and powerful winds. One gust, on the coast west of Amsterdam, was recorded at just over 90 mph, the institute said.

The alert level was scaled back early in the afternoon as the storm headed northeast and weakened.

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Dutch media showed pictures of uprooted trees and wind-blown debris littering streets in Amsterdam, The Hague and the city of Haarlem as the storm barreled through during the normally busy morning rush hour.

A woman was killed in Haarlem when a tree fell on a car, police spokesperson Nina Moers said. In Amsterdam, a tree fell on a houseboat moored in one of the city’s historic canals.

Strong gusts of wind also hit some areas of northwestern Germany. Police said a pedestrian died in Rhede, a municipality near the Netherlands border, after a tree fell on her. Police initially identified the victim as a man.

Icelandic horses

Horses are shown on a farm near Frankfurt, Germany, after a rainstorm passed by on July 5, 2023.
(AP Photo/Michael Probst)

Videos showed trees scattered across highways, toppled on a row of houses in Haarlem and uprooted onto a tram in The Hague. Amsterdam municipality closed parks as the storm hit the Dutch capital.

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Emergency services in North Holland province, which includes the capital Amsterdam, sent a push alert to mobile phones urging people to stay indoors as the storm passed. Traffic authorities also advised motorists to avoid driving, if possible.

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, one of Europe’s busiest aviation hubs, said on its website that it expected “very limited air traffic will be possible” into the afternoon, leading to cancellations and delays for incoming and departing flights.

With the wind easing by mid-afternoon, the airport said more planes could take off and land but disruptions would continue.

“Together with airlines, we are trying to get as many travelers as possible to their destinations today,” Schiphol said in a message to passengers.

The national railway company halted all trains in the northern Netherlands.

In Germany, some ferries to islands just off the North Sea coast were canceled, and trees fell on a railway line between the city of Emden and the town of Leer. A line that runs between Hamburg and Sylt, a popular vacation island, was also shut between the towns of Husum and Niebuell.


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