February 9, 2009 / 6:28 PM / 11 years ago

UPDATE 2-Paris airports close as storm hits France

(Adds airports closed, sea traffic hit)

PARIS, Feb 9 (Reuters) - French aviation officials ordered the closure of Paris’s three airports on Monday as a precaution after a powerful storm struck northern France.

In a highly unusual move, the French civil aviation authority said the Roissy, Orly and Bourget airports would remain closed from 8 p.m. on Monday until 10 a.m. on Tuesday (1900-0900 GMT).

The French weather office has warned much of northern France will be battered overnight by gales in excess of 100 kmh (60 mph), with gusts of up 160 kph possible in some western coastal areas.

Air France said it has cancelled 210 flights on Monday evening and asked passengers not to turn up to Paris airports until Tuesday morning.

The French carrier also reserved 1,400 hotel rooms at Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport for transfer passengers already blocked there.

Traffic authorities advised drivers along much of France’s Atlantic seaboard not to take to the roads until after the storm passed, while the ferry service between Brittany and nearby islands was suspended on Monday night because of strong seas.

It is the second major storm to hit France in less than a month. On Jan. 24, winds of up to 190 km blasted the southwest, killing at least four people and leaving thousands without power for days.

Insurers have estimated that that storm caused more than 1 billion euros ($1.30 billion) of damage. The French weather office said the latest storm would not be as powerful, but would hit a much larger swathe of the country. (Reporting by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Alison Williams)

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