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Storm Dennis: Weather warnings for West Midlands as rain and wind returns

By Harry Leather | Walsall | News | Published:

Events were cancelled and transport was disrupted as Storm Dennis arrived in the West Midlands.

A fallen tree on Himley Road during Storm Dennis on Saturday. Photo: Ty Rossiter

Emergency services warned motorists to take care as weather forecasters said the rain could be worse that that that fell during Storm Ciara's track across the UK last weekend.

Persistent rain was expected to fall across the Black Country and Staffordshire all day on Saturday and until mid morning on Sunday, although the worst of the weather was expected to avoid the region.

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Storm Dennis weather warnings
(PA Graphics)

More than 230 easyJet flights in and out of the UK were cancelled on Saturday, with wind speeds forecast to reach 70mph along coastlines and up to 4.7in (120mm) of rain expected to fall in some areas.

Two bodies were pulled from rough seas on Saturday before the worst of the storm hit.

One man was found following a huge search operation off Margate after an early-morning distress call, while another was found at Herne Bay.

Shoppers brave the weather in Cannock town centre

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The high winds felled several trees in the Black Country.

Among the early incidents was a tree blocking Himley Road next to the junction with High Arcal Road. The tree was still covering more than half of the road at 1pm, with drivers reporting delays as a result.

Tree also reportedly blocked Brookland Road in Walsall Wood and Vicarage Road in Wednesfield, while in Birmingham debris was said to be flying off HMP Birmingham's roof in Winson Green.

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Cancellations and closures

The severe weather meant attractions across the region were closely monitoring forecasts on what would ordinarily be a busy start to the February half term.

Cannock Chase Forest, including the Go Ape centre, play area and walking trails, was shut due to the predicted high winds on Saturday

Forestry England officials said they hoped the forest would be able to reopen on Sunday once safety checks have been carried out.

Meanwhile Birches Valley junior parkrun at Cannock Chase was also cancelled.

And Walsall Council cancelled markets in Walsall, Bloxwich and Willenhall on Saturday.

Dudley Zoo, which has just unveiled its new giant lemur statue, was open but the castle courtyard was closed and larger animals like lions, tigers and orangutans were kept indoors.

Black Country Living Museum said staff would monitor forecasts and post any updates online.

Meanwhile West Midland Safari Park was open for the first time this season, just one week after 16 animals were killed by a pack of African wild dogs which managed to escape after Storm Ciara damaged their compound.

Six deer and 10 sheep were killed by the dogs last weekend.

Storm Ciara also felled trees, left homes without power and caused major travel disruption across the region last week.

Weather warnings

The Met Office has issued eight weather warnings covering most of the UK this weekend.

A yellow warning for rain covers all of the West Midlands and Staffordshire from midday on Saturday until 9pm on Sunday while a yellow wind warning is in place until midday on Sunday.

Flood barriers are up in Bewdley, where a flood alert is in place for the River Severn.

Alerts, which are the least severe of the warnings issued and mean flooding is possible, are also in place for Stourport and brooks in the Wyre Forest.

The Environment Agency said flooding was likely to be worse than under last weekend’s Storm Ciara due to rain falling on already saturated ground.

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

However the Met Office said the “main areas of concern” on Saturday are north and south-west England and Wales, with the South East bearing the brunt more on Sunday.

Troops are being deployed to help with preparations in the Calder Valley in West Yorkshire.

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 the railway 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 storm is also likely to cause treacherous driving conditions, with drivers urged not to attempt entering deep floodwater.

Harry Leather

By Harry Leather
Digital Editor - @hleather_star

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