Northwestern Europe is bracing for a severe storm that forecasters say likely will bring gale-force winds and flooding in coastal areas.

Weather forecasters in Britain and Germany predicted winds gusting up to 90 miles (145 kilometers) per hour on Thursday. Britain's Environment Agency said tidal surges could bring "significant" coastal flooding, and the Thames Barrier was closed to protect London.

Ferry operators canceled services to some of Germany's North Sea islands and the country's national railway, Deutsche Bahn, warned of likely disruption across a swathe of northern Germany.

The German Weather Service said the storm front, which was gathering strength as it headed eastward from the Atlantic Ocean off Greenland, would also bring polar air to Europe — meaning that it could bring snow to low-lying areas.