Second UK cyclone in a week kills 2, brings travel chaos

Flooding from Storm Dennis may be more severe than last week’s Storm Ciara. (AP pic)

LONDON: Britain is suffering a second weekend of downpours and destructive winds as Storm Dennis sweeps in from the Atlantic just days after the last cyclone battered the country.

Two people died in the sea off Kent, east of London, while airlines cancelled hundreds of flights.

Dennis, which has already pummeled the Irish Republic, will “bring very heavy rain and strong winds” from Saturday through Monday, according to the UK Met Office, which issued multiple National Severe Weather Warnings, including amber alerts for downpours in England and Wales.

A body was found following a seven-hour search for a man who fell off a fuel tanker near Margate, the BBC reported, while a teenager died after entering the sea in nearby Herne Bay, according to the Daily Mail.

EasyJet Plc cancelled 234 flights across its network on Saturday, mostly at London Gatwick, its biggest hub, plus 118 tomorrow, according to a spokeswoman.

That’s likely to affect travel for more than 50,000 people. The discount carrier said travellers should also factor in extra travel time to the airport.

London Heathrow airport, Europe’s busiest, said some airlines have merged services to minimise last-minute cancellations. The move increases gaps between flights to improve operational flexibility.

More severe

Flooding may be more severe than from last week’s Storm Ciara since water hasn’t yet had time to drain away, leaving the ground saturated, while in southern Scotland snowmelt will add to the flood risk, the Met Office said.

Ciara also claimed two lives in Britain, with a driver killed by a falling tree and a man suffering a fatal head injury after slipping on ice.

“With Storm Dennis bringing further heavy and persistent rain over the weekend, there is a risk of significant impacts from flooding, including damage to property and a danger to life from fast-flowing floodwater,” Chief Meteorologist Steve Willington said in an online update.

Power cuts and cancellations to train and bus services are also predicted, while the UK Environment Agency issued 15 flood warnings, ranging from Scarborough on the North Sea to the River Severn in western England.

The army helped shore up defences in parts of Yorkshire inundated by Ciara, which flooded some 800 properties in England alone.

Amber rain warnings were issued for northern England, west Wales and parts of southwest England, with less severe yellow rain and wind warnings covering much of the UK.

Gales are expected to reach 70 miles an hour on the coast, while the downpours will give way to blustery, wintry showers on Monday.

Flight cancellations

British Airways scrapped about 20 outbound services and a similar number of arrivals Saturday, mostly for the afternoon, when rain in the London area was forecast to be heaviest.

Cancellations are limited to European services and most passengers were offered the opportunity to travel on earlier flights.

“We are merging a small number of Heathrow short-haul flights to the same destination and using larger aircraft where possible to minimise disruption,” the unit of IAG SA said in an email.

The National Rail website warned of potential disruption at all train-operating companies, with speed restrictions in several areas and some journeys truncated.

ScotRail said it may replace trains with buses where tracks are in danger of being swamped by large waves.