Orange alert: rail services halted

The Belgian Met Office has issued a Code Orange alert for West and East Flanders provinces as well as for Antwerp Province.  Gusty conditions are forecast with winds reaching speeds of 120 km/hour.

By 2PM all rail services across East and West Flanders had had to be halted. The rail service was having to cope with two many incidents involving trees on the line.  Services from Antwerp to the Dutch border and between Brussels and Leuven were also suspended for a while.  All trains continued until the next station before being taken out of service. On the roads extreme caution is urged. Part of the outer Brussels orbital ring road was also closed for a while. Rail services will resume once the storm has passed.

By 3PM the storm had claimed a first fatality.  In Mol (Antwerp) a man was crushed by a falling tree.

VRT weatherman Frank Deboosere warns that gusts with speeds like that threaten to cause material damage.  Parks across the country have been closed too as a precaution.  From 10AM onwards Code Yellow applies across the country, increasing to Code Orange in western parts and Antwerp by 1PM. The carnival parade in the seaside resort of Ostend has had to be abandoned.  In Antwerp the Zoo closed early.

Frank Deboosere notes that the south-westerly will gain in intensity.  Showers are our lot with gusts mainly between noon and 6PM.  Wind speeds reach 100km/hour, 120km/hour in places.  Frank Deboosere says "Don't park under a tree and stay out of the woods today!"

For non-urgent assistance or to report damage call 1722.

By 4:45PM VRT weather presenter Sabine Hagedoren was able to say the worst was over.  Sunday night will be gusty with winds reaching up to 90km/hour, but that is much less than the 120km/hour recorded earlier. Monday too will be blowy with gusts of up to 80km/hour.