For the past 36 hours, hurricane-force winds have raked through western Europe as a result of a strong low pressure system crashing ashore in Denmark. The strong winds are causing widespread damage, knocking out power, and interrupting hundreds of flights at some of the busiest airports in the world.

The low pressure system responsible for the intense winds reached a minimum pressure of around 968 millibars last night, which makes it a pretty formidable storm system, all things considered. For reference, if we saw a 968 millibar nor'easter off the coast of New England, weather geeks would be drooling over it and The Weather Channel would have 11 crews stationed on the beach.

Sustained winds of 60 MPH with gusts of 70+ MPH were not uncommon across the region at the height of the storm. The steep pressure gradient between the low over the North Sea and an Azores High west of the Iberian Peninsula left communities from Scotland to central Europe in the firing zone for a good buffeting.

Hours after the peak of the storm, we're still seeing widespread reports of sustained winds of 35 knots (40 MPH) from northern Scotland to the southeast into Slovakia. Wind barbs show winds in knots; long bars indicate 10 knots, short bars indicate 5 knots, while flags indicate 50 knots. Four long bars and a short bar on a wind barb indicates a reported wind of 45 knots.

The gusts are even stronger, with two stations—a buoy in the North Sea and a station in eastern Germany—reporting a wind gust of 63 MPH at 17z.

The strong winds resulted in hundreds of cancelled flights across the continent, with "at least 80 flights" cancelled at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport, and hundreds of flight delays at London-Heathrow. Thousands of people lost power across the region as trees and power lines toppled against the force of the wind, but there's one bit of damage that causes this blog an extra level of pain.

The Vane is in mourning this afternoon upon learning of the critical injury sustained by an apparently-famous weather vane at Lord's Cricket Ground in London. The world-famous cricket venue has served as home to this weather vane since 1928; the direction-telling hunk of metal withstood the scourge of World War II and countless storms, but the winds from this storm managed to do it in. The Vane remembers all vanes across the world that succumb to the elements, and wish this vane the best of luck as experts try to restore it to its former glory.

Winds should slowly start to die down over the next 12 to 24 hours as the storm weakens and pulls away from the area.

[Images: AP, GREarth]

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