Dennis the menace brings ‘perfect storm’
A “PERFECT storm” of heavy rain, strong winds and melting snow is set to flood homes and lead to half-term getaway chaos today.
Storm Dennis is forecast to be worse than last weekend’s Storm Ciara, and will batter swathes of the country with 70mph winds and up to 140mm (5.5in) of rain in some areas in just 24 hours.
Network Rail is warning that train tracks will flood, and the RAC told motorists to expect long delays as they contend with “dreadful conditions” on the roads. Some sailings across the Irish Sea have already been cancelled, while it is feared the weather will further disrupt flights.
Hundreds of homes could be evacuated as Dennis strikes, with the Environment Agency last night warning Britain to expect the worst flooding of the winter.
Teams are already in Yorkshire putting out sandbags as people protect their homes from yet another deluge, and in Cumbria they are clearing debris from Ciara to create room for floodwater.
Many towns and villages have not yet recovered from Ciara, and the water has yet to drain away from flood plains and other defences. Some of the worsthit areas faced snow after the last storm, and this will melt as the heavy rain hits this weekend, causing even more water to flood into stricken communities.
Heavy rainfall in Devon and also in the South East will cause disruption to transport, but in parts of Lancashire, Yorkshire and Cumbria there are fears of severe flooding. Paul Davies, the principal meteorologist at the Met Office, said: “With Ciara, the rain was heavy but swift. With Dennis, we are concerned about the longevity of the rainfall.”
“This could be a step up from what we have seen before,” said John Curtin, the Environment Agency’s executive director of flood and coastal risk management. “We had a big storm last weekend, [we now have] saturated catchments, snowmelt and rainfall, so it is a perfect storm.”