updated 2/10/2009 6:22:30 PM ET 2009-02-10T23:22:30

Some 600,000 homes lost power Tuesday after a violent storm with winds reaching nearly 90 miles per hour knocked out electricity across a wide swath of western and central France, the country's electricity distribution authority said.

The storm also disrupted travel for thousands of passengers scheduled to fly through Paris' airports, which closed for 14 hours overnight in response to the gusting winds.

Paris' Charles de Gaulle, Orly and Le Bourget airports reopened after 10 a.m. and traffic was progressively returning to normal, the region's airport authority said in a statement. Still, it warned that delays on incoming and outgoing flights from the three airports were to be expected.

Bernard Lassus, director of France's electricity distribution network, said about 600,000 households had been affected by the power outages, but that electricity had been restored to roughly half of affected households in the hardest-hit western regions by 7 a.m.

But as the storm swept inland from the Atlantic Tuesday, it caused further power cuts to other regions in the center of the country, Lassus told France-Info radio. At midday, some 400,000 households were still without power, the electricity distribution authority said in a statement.

Air France on Tuesday said it had put up around 3,000 passengers affected by the Paris airport closures in local hotels overnight Monday.

In a statement, the airline said it had canceled 250 flights on Monday, as well as 15 percent of Tuesday's scheduled short- and medium-haul flights. All long-haul flights from the Paris airports were maintained on Tuesday, though long delays were likely, the statement said.

The airports closed at 8 p.m. Monday and remained closed until Tuesday at 10 a.m.

The civilian airport authority said the closures — a rare occurrence — came in response to the storm's winds, which posed a safety threat to air traffic.

Heavy rain and gale-force winds in parts of southern England also caused flight disruptions there, as well as road closures and train cancellations. Some areas recorded close to their monthly average rainfall for February in just 24 hours.

Heavy snow hit regions further north in England and Wales, leading to road and school closures and power outages.

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