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    Severe Storm Joachim Unleashes Hurricane Force Winds

    By By Jim Andrews, Accuweather.com senior meteorologist
    December 18, 2011, 4:08:57 AM EST


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    A severe storm, named Joachim, has unleashed high winds, torrential rain and some snow as it plowed eastward France and into Germany.

    Along with damaging winds and flooding rain, the newest storm hurled hammering waves against the Atlantic shore of France and northwest Spain.

    The seas were so rough that a large Cargo ship washed ashore in Brittany. All crew members were rescued by helicopter as the helpless ship slammed onshore. The ship is also leaking fuel into nearby waters with a reported 200 tonnes of fuel on-board.

    Land, air and sea transportation has suffered disruption, owing to cancellations, restriction and closure at airports, on highways and at ferry docks.

    Strong wind gusts from Joachim has already suspended rail services in western Germany, while parts of southern Germany have been issued a severe weather alert.

    Hurricane force wind gusts in excess of 80 mph have battered parts of western and northern France. Meanwhile the Black Forest region of southwest Germany has already experienced sustained winds of over 60 mph in Feldberg, the areas highest peak. Wind gusts in excess of 90 mph have been recorded in the same region. The potential exists for winds over 125 mph at the peak of the storm.

    The strong winds have lead to more than 400,000 people without power in France.

    Although the strong winds have been the major culprit with Joachim, widespread 1-2 inch rainfall has fallen across northern France leading to some local flooding problems. The heaviest rain is now moving across Germany and southern France.

    Snow will have a part to play with this storm. Snowfall will be substantial in hilly areas of Germany, southern France and southeastern Belgium.

    Meanwhile, ski resorts in the Alps will get a lift from this storm. Its slug of moist, increasingly cold air will breed heavy Alpine snow Friday into Saturday.

    Meteorologist Eric Leister contributed to this story.


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