Hurricane-force winds cause widespread damage

Winds gusting up to 40 meters per second (about 86 m.p.h.) ripped roofs from buildings, felled trees and caused power outages in much of Latvia and other parts of Europe on Jan. 9, according to media reports. The hurricane conditions were the worst seen in 40 years.

Flooding in Rīga and in other cities led to street closures and home evacuations, while the government declared a crisis in the power sector. Schools were expected to stay closed Jan. 10 and 11 to keep children safe.

Worst hit was the western coast, especially the port cities of Liepāja and Ventspils. For a while, road access to Ventspils was blocked, while residents struggled with power outages and lack of clean drinking water. Even stationary and mobile telephone service was disrupted in many areas, according to reports received by Latvians Online.

Waves cresting to six meters were reported along the Baltic Sea coast, while high water also was seen in the Daugava River in Rīga.

Although no one was seriously hurt in Latvia, loss of life was reported in Sweden, Denmark and Great Britain. Weather forecasts called for continued high winds through part of the coming week while another cyclone heads across northern Europe.

Power outages and lack of drinking water was still being reported Jan. 10 in some communities, including Sigulda and Talsi.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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