Storm Dennis will batter the UK this weekend with winds of up to 70mph and more than a month’s rain expected to fall in just two days in some areas, as fears are heightened that hundreds of homes may be flooded.
With the country hit by horrendous weather for the second weekend in a row, the military is being sent to Calderdale, West Yorkshire, on Saturday to support the recovery and bolster preparations for the latest storm.
More than 200 flights have been cancelled as the weather is due to cause transport chaos, with amber and yellow warnings for rain and wind in place across large swaths of the country from Saturday lunchtime until Sunday evening.
The Met Office is even warning of a “danger to life” in some areas due to potential flooding as some areas will get up to 120mm of rainfall – well over the amount that would typically fall in an entire month. “Homes and businesses are likely to be flooded, causing damage to some buildings,” the forecaster warns.
It comes after Storm Ciara swept in last weekend, flooding 800 homes and leaving half a million people without electricity. Despite the fresh weather warnings, one Labour MP representing a constituency in Yorkshire – which is braced for heavy rainfall and has experienced significant flooding in the past – admitted she was frustrated that there are not greater flood protections in place.
York Central MP Rachael Maskell told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “This is all too resonate of 2015; of course we saw the mass devastation in York in 2015, but four years on we still don’t have the defences our city needs.
“That’s unacceptable. We haven’t seen the government putting the upper catchment management in place, slowing the flow of the river. That is not acceptable. So I have already challenged the government last week after Storm Ciara about their failure to address those areas which flood and I will continue to place that challenge.”
Across Yorkshire, which gets on average between 51 and 67mm of rainfall in the whole of February, forecasters predict there will be up to 80mm of rain in just 48 hours. In West Yorkshire, Calderdale council said all its teams were working hard ahead of the next storm, and six community “flood hubs” set up this week will remain open.
But it said its resources have been stretched due to the impact of last weekend’s storm, and it welcomed the additional help from the 4th Infantry Brigade. Troops will support organisations, residents and businesses on the ground, the council said.
The “main areas of concern” on Saturday are north and south-west England and Wales, the Met Office warned, with the south-east facing the worst of the weather on Sunday.
Snowdownia, in north Wales, typically receives 97mm of rainfall in February but will instead be hit by between 100 and 120mm over the weekend. The strongest winds, of up to 70mph, will strike along the UK’s west coast from Cornwall all the way up to Scotland.
The Environment Agency predicts flooding will be worse than last weekend as the ground is already saturated. Major disruption is expected by Network Rail on many train routes and households near railway lines are being urged to secure loose items in their gardens. It follows lines being blocked last weekend after trampolines were blown on to tracks, as well as falling overhead electrical wires.
British Airways and easyJet have confirmed cancellations for safety reasons, with travellers being called to check their websites for latest updates.
A spokeswoman for easyJet, which has cancelled 234 flights, said: “We are doing everything possible to minimise the impact of the disruption for our customers and to arrange alternative travel.”
British Airways said: “The majority of our flights are planned to operate as planned, but, like all airlines flying to and from the UK today, we are experiencing some disruption due to the stormy weather conditions.
“We are merging a small number of Heathrow short-haul flights to the same destination and using larger aircraft where possible to minimise disruption.”