In the wake of the hell unleashed by Storm Ciara, the UK is battening down the hatches for another brutal windstorm amid warnings for damaging gales, power cuts and possible danger to life. Weather models reveal wind speeds at close to the centre of the deep low-pressure system hitting a terrifying 150km/h.
The timing of the onset draws a grim parallel to the killer Valentine’s Day Storm which hit six years ago leaving a trail of destruction across Britain.
While not expected to be as severe, loved-up couples could see Friday night and weekend plans floored by lashing rain and severe gales.
Independent forecasters are sounding alarm bells for ‘significant’ travel disruption which could close roads and lead to ferry cancellations and grounded planes.
Torrential downpours across parts of Britain already saturated from Storm Ciara has raised concerns over further flooding.
The full force of Storm Dennis – dubbed Dennis the Menace – is expected to hit on Saturday morning.
Jim Dale, forecaster for British Weather Services, said: “We are calling this one Dennis the Menace, it is going to deliver a very windy spell with rain mainly over the north and west of the country.
UK weather warning: Storm Dennis the Menace to smash UK with heavy rain on 90mph jet stream
“The storm will arrive on Saturday into the west of the country, and appears to be a classic winter storm in nature.”
AccuWeather senior meteorologist Eric Leister warned the weather will start to turn unsettled on Friday before ramping up through the following 24 hours.
He said: “A band of rain and gusty winds will cross the British Isles on Friday ahead of Dennis’ arrival on Saturday.
“Wind and rain will increase Saturday morning as Dennis approaches from the Atlantic.
“During the afternoon, powerful winds will be felt across all of Ireland and the UK with downpours soaking Scotland, England and Wales.
“Significant travel disruptions are possible again, including ferry and rail service as well as air travel.
“Flooding will also be a widespread concern as soil is already saturated following Storm Ciara.”
Storm Dennis map shows the jet stream passing through the UK on Saturday
Government forecasters have issued a raft of warnings ahead of the onslaught with a near nationwide wind and rain alert in place on Saturday.
A warning for rain down the west coast and across southern England predicts up to three inches will drench the region.
A wind warning covers much of England with gales of up to 70mph forecast in exposed regions and over high ground.
Gusts of between 50 and 60mph threaten to scour inland regions prompting warnings for travel disruption, power cuts and injuries from flying debris.
Met Office spokesman Oli Claydon said: “Low pressure to the far northwest of the UK will begin to influence the weather on Friday with strong winds and have rain across northern England and Wales.
“While this move through relatively quickly it will be unsettled.
“Valentine’s Day is looking very wet and windy and not very pleasant.”
UK weather map shows wind gusts hitting the country, with Storm Dennis hovering near the North Sea on Friday
After a brief lull, Storm Dennis will rage in on Saturday delivering the real punch with dangerous winds, rain and further floods.
Mr Claydon said: “We are expecting widespread strong winds across the whole of the UK and heavy rain which falling on already saturated ground will be a consideration.
“The storm is being steered across the Atlantic towards the UK on a very strong jet stream, in this regard it is following a similar pattern to Storm Ciara.”
Storm Brian, which arrives six years almost to the day as Cyclone Tini, threatens a similar shake up to Valentine’s plans.
The Valentine’s Day Storm, also called Storm Darwin, hit the UK on February 12, 2014, bringing hurricane-force winds to Ireland and parts of the UK.
Falling trees led to road closures across England and Wales while electricity cables toppled leading to power outages.
UK weather warning: Storm Dennis will hit the UK through Saturday with first wind gusts arriving in the early hours
The storm led to the death of a man in his 70s who was fatally injured in Wiltshire while he was clearing a fallen tree from his property.
Tens of thousands of homes were left without power while a major emergency was declared in parts of Ireland.
While this weekend’s storm is not expected to be as violent as 2014, forecasters are warning Valentine’s passions could be extinguished by the weather.
The Environment Agency has issued 44 ‘immediate action’ flood warnings with 126 ‘be prepared’ flood alerts in place across the nation.
A spokesman said: “Properties may flood and there could be travel disruption.
“Land, roads and some properties could flood and there could be travel disruption.
“Local coastal flooding is also possible for the coasts of Wales and the west.”
Piers Corbyn, forecaster for WeatherAction.com, said: “It is going to be very wet and windy and we could see something similar to Storm Ciara.
“Bad weather will set in on Friday, and this could affect plans for Valentine’s Day.
“Most of England and Wales will see very strong winds although Scotland is in the firing line for the strongest gales.”