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  1. ITV Report

'Danger to life' declared as UK braces for Storm Dennis battering 70mph winds

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Damon Green

The Met Office has issued a "danger to life" weather warning as the UK braces itself for Storm Dennis - a second weekend of gusty weather.

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.

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

The Environment Agency (EA) said the flood impact from the weather system is likely to be worse than last weekend’s Storm Ciara due to rain falling on already saturated ground.

  • Correspondent Damon Green explains how Storm Dennis' flood risk is much worse compared to Storm Ciara

The Met Office has issued severe weather warnings covering most of the UK this weekend.

These include amber warnings stating that flooding could cause a danger to life, power cuts are expected and there is a good chance transport links will be impacted.

Paul Davies, principal meteorologist at the Met Office, said the "main areas of concern" on Saturday are north and south-west England and Wales, with the South East set to suffer the most on Sunday.

Many residents in Yorkshire are already taking measures to prepare for Storm Dennis. Credit: ITV News

Storm Ciara, which hit the UK last weekend, left 800 properties flooded in England alone, according to the EA.

Six days ago the streets of Appleby in Cumbria were under water after the deluge burst the banks of the river and more than 20 homes were damaged.

Sophia Clarke, who lives in Appleby with her disabled son Dylan told ITV News Storm Ciara left them without power and needing to escape, now she fears the same will happen again in less than 24 hours.

She told ITV News: "I'm absolutely terrified, I'm absolutely petrified, I can't move him again and being in the dark, there's no worse feeling, especially with a lack of support because we live in the middle of nowhere.

Sophia Clarke lives in Appleby with her disabled son Dylan. Credit: ITV News

John Curtin, the agency’s executive director of flood and coastal risk management, said Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire were the areas he was most "concerned" about.

"This (storm) could be a step up from what we have seen before," Mr Curtin said.

"We had a big storm last weekend, (we now have) saturated catchments, snowmelt and rainfall, so it is a perfect storm."

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

The town of Appleby-in-Westmorland, in Cumbria, was severely hit by flooding from Storm Ciara. Credit: PA

Flood defences will be in operation, and additional temporary flood barriers were installed in Shropshire and Lancashire on Friday ahead of the anticipated deluge.

Barriers to be deployed on Saturday include at Ilkley in Yorkshire and Leatherhead in Surrey.

More than 500 staff are on active incident duty and 30 mobile pumps have been deployed, the Environment Agency said.

Over this winter period, the agency has issued more than 1,400 flood warnings, while flood defences have protected around 64,000 properties.

1,400
Flood warnings have been issued by the Environment Agency this winter.

Network Rail advised passengers to expect disruption on many routes due to flooding and to allow more time for their journeys.

Tracks could be flooded as the ground near parts of the railway is already saturated, particularly in the North West.

Cross-border journeys between England and Scotland were severely restricted last weekend.

Network Rail’s network services director Nick King 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."

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He added: "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."

Households living near rail lines are being urged to secure any loose items in their gardens, after several trampolines were blown on to tracks and overhead electric wires last weekend, blocking lines.

The storm is also likely to cause treacherous driving 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."

A car stuck in floodwater near Peasmarsh, Somerset. Credit: Steve Parsons/PA

Mr Aldous added: "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.

"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."