Storm Bella: 'Danger to life' flood warnings issued and snow forecast for much of UK

27 December 2020, 10:31 | Updated: 27 December 2020, 13:37

Over 1000 houses were told to evacuate in Bedfordshire.
Over 1000 houses were told to evacuate in Bedfordshire. Picture: Getty

By Joe Cook

Storm Bella has battered many parts of the UK, with winds of up to 100 miles per hour and heavy rain causing flooding.

Hundreds of homes and businesses have been left without power and as of 10am on Sunday, 113 flood warnings remain in place, where “flooding is expected”.

Two severe - “danger to life” - warnings are also in place, with Billing Aquadrome Holiday Park and Cogenhoe Mill Caravan Site in Northamptonshire evacuated after the River Nene burst its banks.

Although Storm Bella has now largely passed over the UK, yellow weather warnings remain in place for snow and ice across most of Scotland, Northern Ireland and northern England.

Storm Bella hit Bedfordshire particularly hard, with 1,300 houses evacuated along the River Ouse on Christmas Day.

Hundreds of families are still not in their homes in the county, although emergency assistance centres have now been stood down in Bedford after warnings were lifted overnight.

The local council says rivers are expected to remain high over the coming days and the Environment Agency have deployed two extra water pumps.

Clare Devany, 38, husband James Hodgson, 43, and their daughters, aged four and five, spent Christmas Day moving furniture to the top floor of their house in Bedford, before leaving to spend the night in a hotel in nearby Peterborough.

Ms Devany said: "You don't realise how much stuff you have in a house until you have to move it.

"We put all the furniture on to kitchen chairs and raised the sofa by two feet.

"You walk around and you just have to work out what to sacrifice. For us, that was things like the TV, because it was mounted and we didn't have time to take it down, the living room cabinets. It's furniture, it's not the end of the world.

"We moved paperwork, photos, all of the kid's memorabilia, their toys - everything came upstairs. The only thing we didn't touch because we didn't have time was the kitchen."

The Environment Agency has asked people across the country to keep away from "swollen rivers and flooded land", warning “just 30cm of flowing water is enough to float your car."

In Warwickshire, the fire service also urged people not to drive through the water, after they were forced to rescue people trapped on top of their vehicles.

The weather has also caused sporting events to be cancelled, with Chepstow's Coral Welsh Grand National meeting abandoned due to a waterlogged track.

Flood defences were installed in Ironbridge, Shropshire, ahead of Storm Bella.
Flood defences were installed in Ironbridge, Shropshire, ahead of Storm Bella. Picture: PA
A canal boat got into difficulties on the River Ouse after it burst its banks on Boxing Day.
A canal boat got into difficulties on the River Ouse after it burst its banks on Boxing Day. Picture: SOPA Images/SIPA USA/PA Images
The Environment Agency have warned people not to drive through flood water.
The Environment Agency have warned people not to drive through flood water. Picture: SOPA Images/SIPA USA/PA Images
Bedfordshire saw the greatest flooding, after the River Ouse burst its banks.
Bedfordshire saw the greatest flooding, after the River Ouse burst its banks. Picture: PA

The highest winds were recorded at the Needles on the Isle of Wight, with gusts of 106 miles per hour. On mainland Britain, Aberdaron in Gwynedd, north Wales, saw the strongest gusts of 83 miles per hour.

Achnagart in the Scottish highlands saw the heaviest rain on Boxing Day, with 82.6 mm recorded. Meanwhile, at 30 minutes, Yeovilton saw the most sunlight.

Colder weather is expected to follow the storm. Manchester, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Belfast are all covered by yellow weather warnings for ice and snow throughout Sunday.

Snow is expected to settle in some areas, with Public Health England recommending the elderly and vulnerable heat their homes “to at least 18C if you can”.