Storm Dennis: Danger to life warnings issued as Britain braces for weekend weather chaos

15 February 2020, 00:25

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Forecasters have issued four danger to life warnings as Britain prepares to be battered by Storm Dennis with travel warnings across the country.

A "perfect storm" of heavy rain, strong winds and melting snow could leave hundreds of homes across the UK flooded this weekend, experts have warned.

Storm Dennis is forecast to batter large swathes of the country with 70mph winds and up to 140mm (5.5in) of rain in some areas.

The Met Office said the storm has the potential to bring very strong winds and transport disruption over the weekend and into Monday morning as the country prepares for the second named storm within a week.

Forecasters have said Storm Dennis "is likely to bring very heavy rain, flooding and disruption" while amber warnings for rain and yellow warnings for wind are in place for most of the country from Saturday afternoon and into Sunday evening.

Hundreds of flights have been cancelled from Gatwick, Luton and Stansted, including 150 by EasyJet alone.

More heavy rain and strong gales are expected this weekend
More heavy rain and strong gales are expected this weekend. Picture: PA

The Met Office issued amber warnings for rain in pockets of northern and South West England, and South Wales for 24 hours from 15:00 GMT on Saturday.

Flooding, power cuts and travel disruption are predicted in these areas.

A Met Office spokesperson warned: “Spells of heavy and prolonged rain are expected to affect parts of England and Wales over the weekend with a higher likelihood of impacts now expected in some areas,”

“Around 20-40 mm of rain will fall widely with 50-80 mm likely across parts of northern and southern England.

“Over the higher ground of Wales and southwest England, 120-140 mm of rain is possible in a few locations.

“This rain is expected to fall across areas already wet from recent rainfall.

“Around 20-40 mm of rain will fall widely with 50-80 mm likely across parts of northern and southern England."

Storm Ciara brought heavy winds and rains
Storm Ciara brought heavy winds and rains. Picture: PA

After Storm Ciara wreaked havoc bringing high winds and travel chaos for many just days later already flood-hit communities are preparing for a deluge once again after hundreds of homes flooded and more than 500,000 were without power.

Network Rail has urged train passengers to check their journey before they travel, and appealed to lineside neighbours to secure any items which could blow on to the tracks, including trampolines.

Recent bad weather has seen disruption caused by trampolines which were caught up in gusts and ended up blocking motorways and train lines.

With the half-term holiday fast approaching for many the RAC have reminded motorists not to drive through floodwater and to prepare for "pretty dreadful conditions."

RAC patrol of the year Ben Aldous said: “After so much wind and rain last weekend, drivers will again have to contend with some pretty dreadful conditions on the road with the arrival of Storm Dennis. With transport disruption likely, drivers should expect their journeys to take longer than usual and should stay up-to-date with the latest traffic and travel information as the conditions could change quickly.

“There is also a strong risk of flooding given all the recent rain so it’s essential motorists never attempt to drive through deep floodwater – those that do are not just risking damage to their vehicles but risking their lives and those of their passengers.”

Flood-hit parts of the country are bracing for more rainfall
Flood-hit parts of the country are bracing for more rainfall. Picture: PA

As of 6pm on Friday, there were 14 flood warnings - meaning flooding is "expected" - and 135 flood alerts - meaning flooding is possible - in place across the country.

The Environment Agency has urged people to check for further warnings throughout the weekend.

It said preparations were underway to operate flood defences, flood storage reservoirs and to put up temporary barriers to protect communities.

Network Rail and train operators are advising passengers to check before they travel again weekend.

Last weekend's storm caused reduced services and speed restrictions across parts of the rail network.

The rail industry has said Storm Dennis is likely to bring similar disruption to passengers’ journeys this weekend, with river levels high and many trackside trees weakened.

Nick King, network services director at Network Rail, said: “As we saw last week, stormy weather brings high winds that can lead to trees and other debris falling on to the railway, and floods that prevent us from running trains on parts of the network. That is why we are again asking passengers to check their journeys before they travel this weekend, either with their train operator directly or through National Rail Enquiries.

“Our teams of engineers will again be out working at all hours and in all weathers to remove fallen trees and debris from the railway, repair damaged infrastructure and work to reopen lines affected by flooding.”

A spokesperson said lineside neighbours are "again asked to help keep the railway free of any unexpected debris by tying down or clearing away garden furniture, such as trampolines."