Storm Bella: ‘Danger to life’ weather warning as strong winds and heavy rain forecast for Boxing Day

The warning comes after flooding hits parts of country in run-up to Christmas

Zoe Tidman
Saturday 26 December 2020 17:25
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Flooding in Bedford as River Great Ouse bursts banks ahead of Storm Bella

A “danger to life” weather warning has been issued for Boxing Day, with Storm Bella forecast to bring strong winds and heavy rain to the UK. 

The Met Office has warned that power cuts and travel disruption could occur over the weekend due to the bad weather.

The forecaster said Storm Bella was expected on Boxing Day and Sunday, after dozens of people were rescued and homes and businesses flooded by heavy rain in the run-up to Christmas.

Southern areas of England and Wales have been issued with an amber warning for wind, with forecasters saying flying debris and large waves could cause injuries and danger to life.  Gusts are expected to reach up to 70mph in exposed coastal locations.

The amber warning, which runs from 10pm on Boxing Day until the morning after, also told residents there was a good chance of power cuts, and longer travel times and cancellations were likely. 

Meanwhile, a yellow wind warning has been put in place for England and Wales, as well as the far south of Scotland, from the afternoon of the 26 December, with the Met Office saying large waves and beach material thrown about could cause danger to life. 

The very windy weather expected could cause disruption to travel and utilities, according to the forecaster.

A yellow rain warning is also in place from Manchester to Carlisle, parts of southwest England and Wales from Boxing Day evening until the next day, with the Met Office saying heavy rain and wind could lead to flooding in places. 

The forecaster said conditions across the UK would turn increasingly unsettled through to 27 December, with strengthening winds and heavy rain moving in from the north.

The warning came as homes and businesses were flooded after heavy rain fell on Wednesday, and firefighters across various parts of the country rescued people from cars.

Meanwhile, 107 flood warnings and 135 flood alerts were in place in England on Thursday evening as huge amounts of water passed through river catchments.

Herefordshire and Worcestershire Fire and Rescue Service said it was deluged with calls from the afternoon, and rescued 44 people from stranded vehicles. The brigade said it also helped homeowners after serious flooding across the two county area.

On the evening of Christmas Eve, Northamptonshire Police said the emergency services were preparing to evacuate more than 1,000 people from the Billing Aquadrome holiday park in the county.

The force said the heavy rain had caused flooding with water up to 5ft deep in places.

Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service previously responded to 250 incidents, deploying crews to pump out properties and stranded vehicles.

Emergency accommodation was being sourced for the residents of around 500 caravans, some of whom showed signs of hypothermia.

Milton Keynes Council said its staff and Buckinghamshire firefighters had been helping residents in Newport Pagnell, New Bradwell and also Stony Stratford, where the high street had flooded, describing surrounding river levels as exceptionally high.

Properties in various parts of the country, including East Anglia and Gloucester, were also flooded as there was up to two inches of rainfall in some areas.

A yellow Met Office warning stretching from East Anglia, across Leicester, parts of Birmingham and north London, and through to mid-Wales and Cornwall, remained in place until 2am on Thursday.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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