Trains and ferries canceled as storm hits northern Europe

A Porsche 911 car is damaged by a fallen tree in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, Friday, Feb. 17, 2023, as a result of storm Otto. The storm, the first to be named this winter, has been labelled Otto by the Danish Meteorological Institute. A storm over the North Sea on Friday led to dozens of cancellations of train and ferry connections in northern Denmark and southern Norway with the Danish Meteorological Institute saying gusts of hurricane force can be expected. (Danny Lawson/PA via AP) (Danny Lawson, PA)

COPENHAGEN – A powerful storm over the North Sea hit northern Europe and led to dozens of train and ferry cancellations Friday in northern Denmark and southern Norway as the Danish Meteorological Institute forecast hurricane-force wind gusts.

The storm, named Otto, was set to move east over Sweden and the Baltic Sea. In Finland, authorities said there could be power outages over the weekend.

Norwegian meteorologist on duty Håkon Mjelstad told Norwegian newspaper VG that a “fairly strong” low-pressure system was behind the storm.

Ferries in southern Norway were canceled. Some 5,000 passengers will have to wait until at least Saturday to take ferries between northern Denmark and southern Norway, Danish broadcaster DR said.

“We should, of course, have avoided this, but Otto is not a normal weather type, so this does not happen very often,” Erik Brynhildsbakken, CEO of Norwegian ferry company Color Line, told Norwegian news agency NTB.

The stormy weather came at the end of a holiday week in Denmark. Operators were forced to cancel trains in large parts of the country and authorities advised against crossing bridges in lighter vehicles, including the span that links Copenhagen to the Swedish city of Malmo.

Some 280 residents of three buildings from the late 1950s that sit atop a hill in Copenhagen were evacuated as a precaution.

The “storm may reach critical wind speeds for the stability of the buildings, and therefore the residents will, of course, have to get out, ” Sanne Kjaer of non-profit housing company KAB said. KAB owns the high-rises.

Hurricane-strength gusts were measured Friday in Thorsminde, a fishing town on Denmark’s North Sea coast.

There were scattered reports in western Denmark of trees having been knocked down by the wind and objects flying around. In southern Sweden, several train lines were temporarily closed with the Swedish Transport Administration saying that “there is a risk of falling trees and other loose objects blowing over contact lines and tracks."

A ferry line to northern Germany also was suspended with the storm skirting the north of the German Baltic Sea coast.

Storm Otto also caused disruptions in Scotland, where it produced wind gusts of up to 80 miles per hour (130 kph), and in northern England. Some flights and trains were canceled. Tens of thousands of homes in northeast England lost power.