The UK saw one of the wettest Octobers on record as Storm Babet battered the country – and now Storm Ciaran will hit in a matter of hours, bringing “danger to life” amber weather warnings.
The UK had over a third more rain than average, with a total of 171.5mm during the month, in what was provisionally the joint-sixth wettest October on record, the Met Office said.
And eastern Scotland had its wettest October on record in figures which go back to 1836. The 235.9mm of rain recorded was 82% more than its average.
It comes after Storm Babet caused disruption across the UK last month, with Brechin in Angus bearing the brunt of the flooding after dozens of families were forced to leave their homes.
The storm claimed the lives of seven people in Britain, including three in Scotland.
Now two amber wind warnings, the second highest level of alert, are in place for parts of the south coast of England for when Storm Ciaran hits on Thursday, together with further yellow rain warnings, a lower level which means some disruption could be on the way.
Met Office spokesman Oli Claydon said the storm is “forming as we speak” and will hit on Wednesday evening, with coastal gusts of 70mph to 80mph and the potential for 85mph.
And people are being urged not to go near the water’s edge due to “very dangerous conditions”.
An amber warning is in place from 3am to 11am in Cornwall and Devon, with the Met Office predicting Storm Ciaran will bring winds of 75mph to 85mph, with 65mph to 75mph gusts inland.
Across the south coast, the amber warning runs from 6am to 5pm, with winds expected to reach 70mph to 80mph, with the potential for 85mph and large waves.
A major incident has been declared by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Resilience Forum, which will be escalated from midnight on Wednesday.
And six overnight crossings on the Portsmouth to Fishbourne route have been cancelled by ferry company Wightlink.
A red wind warning, the highest level, has been issued by Jersey Met for Wednesday evening into Thursday, with residents warned to avoid outside activity due to predicted gusts of almost 100mph.
Northern Ireland has already seen flooding, where a yellow rain warning from the Met Office was in place until 9am on Wednesday.
A similar notice has been issued for southern parts of England and Wales from 6pm on Wednesday until the end of Thursday.
A yellow warning for rain is also in place from 6am on Thursday to 6am on Friday for north-east England and Scotland stretching up to Inverness.
People are being urged by the Environment Agency to prepare for “possible significant flooding” across parts of England from Wednesday to Friday, with some significant coastal impacts also possible but not expected on Thursday.
The mobile barriers at Exeter, which are part of the flood defence scheme, are being deployed and demountable and temporary barriers are already in place or ready to be installed along the River Severn.
The Environment Agency had issued 24 flood warnings for England by 11am on Wednesday morning, with 116 flood alerts.
The counties named by the Met Office which recorded their wettest October on record include: Angus, Dundee, Fife, Kincardineshire, Staffordshire, Nottinghamshire, the Isle of Wight, Armagh and Down.
Northern Ireland had its fifth wettest October on record, with the 191.8mm total 68% more than its average. England had its eighth wettest on record with 147.2mm of rain, which is 63% more than average.
Storm Babet’s impacts on England and Wales were mainly felt from October 18 to 20, in what was the third wettest three-day period for England and Wales in a series from 1891, while the Midlands provisionally recorded its wettest three-day period on record.
Eastern Scotland also saw exceptional rainfall as part of the storm, with 200mm of rain falling in some of the wettest areas.
Met Office senior scientist Michael Kendon said: “Despite some warmth in the south early on, October 2023 overall goes down as a wet month for much of the UK, with some areas seeing record-breaking levels of rainfall.
“From mid-month, a blocking high set up over Scandinavia has tended to prevent low pressure systems from clearing the UK to the east. Associated with this, the frequent unusual south-easterly flow in eastern Scotland has particularly contributed to the wet month in this area – normally one of the driest parts of the UK.
“Interestingly, areas to the west, where you’d typically see more rain at this time of year, have been sheltered by the mountains from the worst of the weather, with generally below-average rainfall during the month. This has helped prevent national figures from threatening any records.”
Despite the wet weather, temperatures have generally remained above average for the month, with southern England the warmest compared to average – typically between 1.5 and 2C above the 1991-2020 October long-term average.
The UK’s mean temperature of 10.8C in October 2023 is 1C above average, though areas further north were generally closer to average. Scotland’s mean temperature of 8.3C was 0.2C above average.