Delays at Schiphol, more storm damage on 4th straight day with weather warnings

Fallen tree branches in Amsterdam Oost after a thunderstorm, 6 June 2019
Fallen tree branches in Amsterdam Oost after a thunderstorm, 6 June 2019. (Photo: NL Times)

High winds were expected all day throughout the Netherlands, prompting the fourth straight day of inclement weather warnings from the national meteorological agency KNMI. Operations at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam showed only a handful of cancellations but dozens of delays.

KNMI issued a code yellow weather alert for Noord-Holland and the Wadden Sea islands, Friesland, Zuid-Holland, Zeeland, and Limburg. Gusts of wind out of the southwest were expected to be between 75 km/h and 90 km/h, the agency said.

The warning was expected to expire at 8 p.m. everywhere except Limburg, where heavy wind gusts were likely to die down as early as 11 a.m.

At Schiphol Airport, two departures were cancelled on Saturday, and 125 departures faced delays. Delays ranged from a few minutes to a few hours. Similarly, two arrivals were cancelled, and over 200 flights entering the airport faced delays.

Passengers at the airport also complained about long lines at security and passport control. Photos on social media showed queues clogging up a passport checkpoint late Saturday morning.

There were also several reported delays of departing and arriving flights at Eindhoven Airport on Saturday.

Heavy winds caused problems overnight and Saturday morning in several parts of the country. Over a hundred, and as many as two hundred reports of storm damage were called in across the country since midnight.

In Zuid-Holland, and especially around The Hague, winds knocked over trees prompting calls to emergency services starting around 3 a.m. Cars were damaged, and power lines were knocked down by a falling tree, according to Omroep West. Rooftops also appeared as if they were about to be blown off buildings in Leiden and Waddinxveen, the broadcaster said.

The regional fire department for Limburg-Noord was dealing with several reports of storm damage by 10:30 a.m. The service said at the time that "frisky weather is on the agenda today."

The storm warning on Friday going into the early Saturday morning hours was initially issued as a code yellow warning for the expected thunderstorms, and was later escalated to code orange for a large part of the country. The thunderstorms were expected to be followed by gusts up to 100 kilometers per hour.

The bad weather, in combination with the exodus of people eager to spend the long weekend away, resulted in warnings for a busier than usual evening rush hour. NS ran fewer trains in Oost-Nederland, where the storms were expected to hit the hardest. This was to be better able to cope with any eventual problems. 

Friday was the third stormy night in the Netherlands this week. Storms on Tuesday and Wednesday nights already resulted in thousands of damage reports, many involving 'consequential damage' - roof tiles blowing off one night, resulting in water damage the next, for example. There were some 72,500 lightning flashes in the Dutch skies during Wednesday night's storms. 

The Dutch association of insurers estimate the damages caused by Tuesday and Wednesday's storms in the tens of millions of euros, the Telegraaf reports. The Salvage foundation, which offers first aid during house fires and critical house damage caused by storms on behalf of the insurers, came into action 69 times on those two nights. 

The VNV called storms for two consecutive nights exceptional. "With such weather, it is difficult to estimate the total damage. Especially with hail, it is difficult to use models. Insurers are now mainly busy with helping their customers", VNV director Richard Weurding said to the newspaper.