Source AP ©

Europe under threat of high winds and heavy snow

A low pressure system coming from Scandinavia to Central Europe can bring high winds and heavy snowfall.

Germany and Denmark had warned of wind gusts of up to 125 kph (78 mph) for the weather pattern, which is expected to last through Friday, said EUMETNET, a Geneva-based U.N. European network of 23 national meteorological services.

A moist northerly current in Central Europe also could cause high winds, "but even more damaging might be the extreme amounts of fresh snow to be expected on the northern fringe of the Alps," the statement said.

It added that more than 100 centimeters (3 feet) of snow could fall, "causing larger avalanches at a very early stage of the winter period."

Dutch port authorities prepared to close Europe's largest harbor in Rotterdam because of predicted storm surges as high as 4 meters (13 feet) and winds of up to 100 kph (60 mph).

Britain's Environment Agency warned that the tidal surge could lead to flooding on England's east coast. The Thames River and Dartford Creek barriers will be shut down to cope with the expected 5-foot (1.5-meter) surge above normal sea levels.

Norwegian oil company StatoilHydro ASA is cutting offshore production by 320,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day and reducing southern North Sea platform staff because of the storm. The state-controlled oil company said it was stopping production and reducing staff at its Grane, Visund, Oseberg South and Heimdal fields until the storm passes.

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