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UK weather: Storm Dennis leads to flood warnings and cancelled flights amid heavy rain and strong winds

UK weather: Storm Dennis leads to flood warnings and cancelled flights amid heavy rain and strong winds

Published at 8:44am 14th February 2020. (Updated at 3:29am 16th February 2020)

The army has been called in as Storm Dennis hits the UK with heavy rain and strong winds amid dozens of flood warnings and hundreds of cancelled flights.

Forecasters say the "perfect storm" could bring a month's rainfall in one day and some parts of the country may see up to 12cm (4.7in), with hundreds of homes at risk of flooding.

The floods are likely to be worse than during last weekend's Storm Ciara due to rain falling on already saturated ground, said the Environment Agency.

Winds up to 70mph (113kph) are expected along coastlines.

More than 230 easyJet flights in and out of the UK have been cancelled due to the weather on Saturday.

British Airways said most of its flights are scheduled to go ahead as planned, but it is expecting disruption due to strong winds.

As of 9pm on Saturday, there were three severe flood warnings in Scotland, meaning a danger to life. These were for Newcastleton Village in the Scottish Borders, Hawick (River Teviot) and Hawick (Slitrig).

In England there were no severe flood warnings but there were 70 flood warnings, meaning flooding is expected and people should take immediate action.

Forecasters have issued separate weather warnings for rain and wind covering most of the UK until Monday.

This includes amber warnings from midday on Saturday over southern Scotland, northern England, Wales and part of the South West saying that flooding could cause a danger to life.

Troops are being deployed to help with flood preparations in parts of West Yorkshire, which was badly hit by flooding during Storm Ciara.

The Ministry of Justice has said 75 personnel based in Catterick and 70 reservists from Yorkshire are constructing around 700m of barriers, helping to repair defences and lay down sandbags in Ilkley and Calderdale.

Calderdale Council leader Tim Swift said: "The presence of army officers in Calderdale will be a reassuring sight for the many residents and businesses who are still recovering from Storm Ciara and preparing for Storm Dennis.

"Council staff, partners, volunteers and community groups have worked tirelessly all week and will continue to work around the clock for as long as necessary to help keep people safe and to manage the flood risk."

The Met Office says Storm Dennis poses a greater risk of widespread flooding than Storm Ciara.

Power cuts are also expected and there is a good chance train and buses will see cancellations or delays and roads closed.

Additional temporary flood barriers are being installed in Shropshire, Lancashire, Yorkshire and Surrey.

There is a heightened risk of flooding in parts of West and North Yorkshire, Lancashire and Greater Manchester, Hampshire, Sussex, Surrey and Kent.

More than 500 staff are on active incident duty and 30 mobile pumps have been deployed, the EA said. They added that Storm Ciara left 800 properties flooded in England alone.

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

Meanwhile, people 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 Met Office has said that 82% of the UK's average month's worth of rainfall fell between 1 and 13 February this month.

Northern Ireland had 114% of its rainfall for the same period.

John Curtin, the agency's executive director of flood and coastal risk management, said Storm Dennis could be a "perfect storm" and "a step up from what we have seen before".

Newly-appointed Environment Secretary George Eustice said authorities were "fully focused on ensuring that communities are protected".

Delays and cancellations to transport are also expected, with Network Rail warning that tracks in the North West could be particularly at risk due to the ground being waterlogged since last week.

A spokesman for 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.

"Customers can check ba.com for the latest flight information."

A spokeswoman for easyJet, which has confirmed 234 cancellations, said: "Due to forecasted adverse weather conditions caused by Storm Dennis, easyJet, like other airlines, is currently seeing disruption to its flight programme for Saturday February 15th.

"We are doing everything possible to minimise the impact of the disruption for our customers and to arrange alternative travel.

"Customers on cancelled flights have been given the option of transferring their flight free of charge or receiving a refund. We will also provide hotel rooms and meals for customers who require them."

Driving conditions are also expected to be treacherous as the rain will "significantly reduce visibility", according to the AA.

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