Storm Dennis roared across Britain with high winds and heavy rains Sunday, prompting authorities to issue some 350 flood warnings, including a “red warning” alert for life-threatening flooding in south Wales.
The Met Office, Britain’s meteorological service, only issues its highest warning when it thinks the weather will be so bad there’s a “danger to life.” It’s the first time the service has issued such a warning since December 2015. Hours later, the alert level was downgraded to “amber,” which still warns of significant impact from flooding.
The agency is predicting that up to 140 mm of rain could fall in south Wales before gradually easing later Sunday. The River Taff has already burst its banks in the Welsh town of Pontypool.
Flood warnings were in place Sunday across the U.K., from the north of Scotland through to Cornwall in southwest England.
The Met Office also has four other `’amber” warnings in place in England and Wales, indicating that people must be prepared to change plans and protect themselves and their families from the storm.
Although forecasters expect the worst of the rainfall to have passed by Sunday evening, the flood warnings could remain in place for longer given that so much of the land is still saturated from last week’s Storm Ciara, which left eight people dead across Europe.
“Whilst the heaviest rain has cleared from Northern Ireland and Scotland, England and Wales will continue to see heavy rain on Sunday, with a risk of severe flooding in places,” Andy Page, the Met Office’s chief meteorologist said.
The fourth named storm of Europe’s winter season has already been blamed for the deaths of two men, who were pulled Saturday from the water in separate searches off England’s southeastern coast. The coastal Welsh village of Aberdaron, meanwhile, was blasted by hurricane-force winds up to 91 mph (146 kph).
Hundreds of flights were cancelled due to the high winds while train services were repeatedly disrupted by flooding, affecting tens of thousands of passengers on a key weekend for British families as schools closed for the mid-winter break.
On Saturday, around 75 British army personnel and 70 reservists helped out communities in the flood-hit Calder Valley region in West Yorkshire, constructing flood barriers and repairing damaged flood defences.