Storm Barra: Elderly woman dies in river as 80mph gales batter UK

8 December 2021, 08:18

Huge waves in Penzance, Cornwall. Inset: Venetia Smith
Huge waves in Penzance, Cornwall. Inset: Venetia Smith. Picture: Alamy/Dorset Police

By Patrick Grafton-Green

An elderly woman has died after being swept away by a flooded river as Storm Barra battered the UK.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

The storm brought 80mph gales and heavy rain and snow after Storm Arwen devastated the country almost two weeks ago, leaving almost a million without power.

Venetia Smith, 80, is believed to have fallen from a bridge after she went missing her home in Blandford, Dorset, on Tuesday morning.

READ MORE: Storm Barra 'weather bomb' to bring more misery after 1000s of homes suffer power cuts

READ MORE: Storm Arwen: All houses without power to be reconnected by tomorrow, says Boris Johnson

Her body was found in a river near Langdon Road at about 3pm.

Chief Inspector Matt Baxter, of Dorset Police, said: "Our thoughts remain with Venetia’s family and friends at this very difficult time."

Barra is expected to continue to bring adverse weather conditions on Wednesday after moving in from the west on Tuesday.

A yellow weather warning for wind is in place from midnight until 6pm for the west coast of Wales and south-west England.

A fallen tree blocks a road in South Lanarkshire as Storm Barra hits the UK
A fallen tree blocks a road in South Lanarkshire as Storm Barra hits the UK. Picture: Alamy

Dozens of flood warnings have been issued across the UK, while communities in the North East and Scotland begin to recover from the catastrophic effects of Arwen.

Thousands of homes lost power for up to 10 days in the wake of 100mph winds and lashing rain at the end of November.

Northern Powergrid has not confirmed whether all homes were connected by Tuesday night as promised.

Aberdaron in Gwynedd, Wales, which is covered by the warning, was battered by gales of 86mph on Tuesday, while Orlock Head in Co Down, N Ireland, faced 76mph gusts.

Met Office forecasters said Barra is not expected to cause as much chaos as Arwen - though it has already sparked travel delays and school closures in Scotland.

Spokeswoman Nicky Maxey said: "We are not expecting the impacts of Barra to be as bad as we saw with Arwen.

"Storm Barra will bring strong winds and heavy rainfall to many parts of the UK today.

"We may see some snow on the higher ground, too.

"It is unlikely to be as impactful as Storm Arwen last week but there will be blustery conditions so people should still be prepared."

A person tries to clear the road as Storm Barra creates huge waves in Aberystwyth
A person tries to clear the road as Storm Barra creates huge waves in Aberystwyth. Picture: Alamy

ScotRail has warned that some Wednesday services will be cancelled due to the storm.

The Environment Agency has issued 11 flood warnings for England at locations including Hartlepool and Sunderland in the North East, Bournemouth and Weymouth in the South, and part of the Cumbrian coast.

Some 66 flood alerts, for areas where flooding is possible, have also been issued across the country.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has sent 11 flood alerts and five warnings for areas in the north-east of Scotland and the south-west.

Natural Resources Wales has also issued 12 flood warnings and 11 alerts, mainly covering coastal areas.

On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said more than 1,000 homes were still without power but that he was assured by Northern Powergrid boss Phil Jones that "affected properties would be reconnected tomorrow (Tuesday) at the latest".

Mr Johnson said "too many people have spent too long without power" and the situation in northern England was not acceptable.

Schools in Dumfries and Galloway were forced to close because of the weather.

Stranraer Academy was shut after the wind caused structural damage to the roof, the council said, and Drummore School closed after trees were blown down.