A powerful summer storm wreaked havoc in the Netherlands and parts of Germany on Wednesday, resulting in two fatalities, widespread damage, and major disruptions to transportation. The Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute issued its highest-level alert in three provinces as Storm Poly struck the country with heavy rain and strong winds, reaching gusts of over 145 kilometers per hour (90 mph) on the coast west of Amsterdam.
The storm caused chaos during the typically busy morning rush hour, with Dutch media sharing images of uprooted trees and debris strewn across streets in Amsterdam, The Hague, and the city of Haarlem. Tragically, a woman lost her life in Haarlem when a tree fell onto her car. In Amsterdam, a houseboat moored in one of the city’s historic canals was struck by a falling tree.
Strong gusts also hit several areas of northwestern Germany, resulting in a pedestrian fatality in the municipality of Rhede near the Netherlands border. The victim was initially identified as a man, and videos circulating on social media showed trees blocking highways, demolishing houses in Haarlem, and falling onto a tram in The Hague.
To ensure public safety, the emergency services in North Holland province, which includes Amsterdam, sent out a push alert to mobile phones warning people to stay indoors until the storm passed. Traffic authorities advised motorists to avoid driving if possible. Additionally, the national railway company suspended all train services in the northern part of the Netherlands.
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, one of Europe’s busiest airports, experienced widespread disruptions. The airport website announced that only limited air traffic would be possible into the afternoon, leading to numerous flight cancellations and delays. However, as the wind gradually eased, more planes were able to take off and land, albeit with continued disruptions.
Despite the challenges, Schiphol and airlines worked together to ensure that as many travelers as possible reached their destinations by the end of the day. The airport assured passengers that efforts were being made to minimize the impact of the storm-related disruptions.
In Germany, the storm also had significant repercussions, with ferry services to islands off the North Sea coast being canceled and fallen trees obstructing a railway line between Emden and Leer. Furthermore, the Hamburg-Sylt railway line was closed between Husum and Niebuell.
As the storm headed northeast and weakened, the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute scaled back the alert level in the affected provinces. However, the damage caused by the storm will require significant cleanup efforts and may take some time to fully restore normalcy in the affected regions.
The storm serves as a reminder of the destructive power of nature and highlights the importance of preparedness and safety measures during severe weather events. Authorities and communities will now focus on assessing the extent of the damage and providing support to those affected by the storm.