Storms whips through Europe, damage bases
BAMBERG, Germany — A storm that whipped across Europe on Sunday damaged some U.S. military bases in Germany and Belgium, knocking down fences and trees and damaging roofs.
The storm, named Xynthia, lashed the coasts of France, Spain and Portugal, with hurricane-force winds. Up to 62 people were killed and 1 million households were left without electricity in western Europe on Sunday, according to The Associated Press.
In Germany, winds were recorded as high as 68 mph at Frankfurt and 59 mph in Stuttgart, according to the Air Force’s 21st Operational Weather Squadron at Sembach. Crews were out Monday cleaning up debris and beginning repairs, military officials said.
U.S. Army facilities in Heidelberg and Germersheim reported $60,000 to $80,000 in damage to roofs, doors and windows, as well as damage to some tents used at installation gates, U.S. Army Garrison Baden-Württemberg spokeswoman Lira Frye said Monday.
Twenty buildings were damaged at Army facilities in Wiesbaden, and some fences were damaged and trees were uprooted, according to USAG Wiesbaden spokeswoman Teri Viedt. Damage totals were estimated at more than $250,000, Viedt said. Weather officials said wind gusts peaked at 66 mph on Sunday in Wiesbaden.
Army facilities in Kaiserslautern sustained about $60,000 in damage. Several roofs and fences were damaged, and at least one vehicle was struck by a fallen tree, USAG Kaiserslautern spokesman Mark Heeter said Monday.
"We expect that our damage estimate will increase over the next few days, simply because of the extent of the storm," he said.
At Chievres Air Base in Belgium, high winds caused a 10-foot by 20-foot hole in the roof. The Department of Public Works has since repaired it, said Kevin Downey, USAG Benelux public information officer.
No major damage was reported at Ramstein Air Base, though roads around the base were peppered with tree boughs ripped from trunks. The wind prompted Europe’s busiest military air hub to cancel some flights on Sunday afternoon.
"Flights were able to make it out in the morning, but by midday pilots decided they would no longer fly in the weather," Air Force Staff Sgt. Merrill Slepica said Monday. Monday’s flights were on schedule, he said.
Power outages in towns around the base prompted residents to buy out the stock of ice at the main shoppette on Ramstein, clerks said Sunday.
Frankfurt International Airport also experienced delays and cancellations Sunday as well as the closing of the rail station as a precaution Sunday, according to German news reports.
Some U.S. residents in Germany reported problems with their satellite television reception when the rooftop units were buffeted by the wind.
Satellite repair and installation company owner Joe Furmanek, of Joe Satellite, said his phone had been ringing off the hook.
"We have been extremely busy — there have been nonstop phone calls since the storm kicked off yesterday morning," he said in a telephone interview Monday. "I was expecting more calls really, but I guess since I installed most of the satellites in the area they held well against the wind."