Storm Babet claims second victim: Driver is killed by falling tree

Storm Babet claims second victim: Driver is killed by falling tree and families are rescued from homes as rising flood water holds them hostage in Scotland’s ‘red warning’ zone – as rest of UK is hit by ‘biblical rain’, transport chaos and 70mph winds

  • Van struck by falling tree 20 miles from where woman was swept to her death 
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Storm Babet has claimed its second victim after a man was killed by a falling tree in an area of Scotland currently subject to a red ‘danger to life’ weather warning.

Police have confirmed the 56-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash on the B9127 at Whigstreet near Forfar, Angus, on Thursday, the second confirmed fatality in Storm Babet after a 57-year-old woman was swept into a river 20 miles away hours earlier.

Babet has wrought chaos across the country, with residents being evacuated from homes and reports of cars and lorries overturning amid dangerous conditions on the roads; motoring groups have warned against making unnecessary journeys.

A rare red ‘danger to life’ warning remains in place across parts of Angus and Perthshire in Scotland – with an additional alert in place from midnight – while amber ‘severe’ warnings apply down the spine of England and along Scotland’s east coast.

Yellow warnings for wind and rain are in place for much of the mainland save for the south coast and the west of Scotland; Brits have taken to social media to describe conditions as ‘biblical’.

BRECHIN: A woman is helped to safety by rescue workers as flood waters devastated streets of the Scottish town. Local authorities say much of the area is ‘now only accessible via boat’ 

SOUTH SHIELDS: Huge waves crash into South Shields pier and lighthouse on Friday – the top of the lighthouse has been torn off in the storm

M4: A lorry overturned on the motorway near Chippenham, Gloucestershire earlier on Friday. Road agencies had warned earlier of flooding elsewhere on the trunk road

The UK is awash with weather warnings on Friday – including a rare red weather warning covering Angus, Perthshire and Dundee on Scotland’s east coast

Saturday will see some of the alerts wound down – with amber ‘severe’ warnings remaining in place down the spine of England and on Scotland’s east coast

SURREY: A car flipped over and took out a power line after Storm Babet brought heavy rain across the country

SUNDERLAND: A van drives through sea foam that has covered the esplanade in Seaburn after Storm Babet whipped up huge waves along the east coast of England

WIMBLEDON: A cyclist powers through floodwaters as he passes through a tunnel beneath a railway bridge in south-west London

A Police Scotland spokesperson said of the Forfar crash: ‘Around 5.05pm on Thursday, October 19, 2023, police received a report of a one-vehicle crash in which a tree struck a van on the B9127 at Whigstreet near Forfar.

‘Emergency services attended, however, the 56-year-old driver was pronounced dead at the scene. Next of kin have been informed and a report will be sent to the Procurator Fiscal. The road remains closed.’

Storm Babet is turning its fury on England today after battering much of Scotland yesterday – prompting Good Morning Britain host Kate Garraway to tell a presenter to move away from the violent waves striking a harbour as she delivered a live broadcast.

READ MORE HERE:  Storm let’s ‘av it! Newcastle students brave wet and windy weather for a fancy dress night out on the toon

Garraway, 56, had to urge correspondent Nitya Rajan away from the edge of Whitley Bay harbour, north Tyneside, as she was hit with splash from the rough seas and heavy winds, prompting her to exclaim: ‘Oh gosh, you can see the sheer force.’

It prompted the presenter to joke with Rajan: ‘Listen, I’m going to give you a warning as your mum, Nitya – I want you to come away from that edge. Your reporting is brilliant and vital but we’re concerned about you, we don’t want you to get swept up or anything – move slightly away!’

Large areas of the UK are also seeing flooding, with the Environment Agency issuing 44 flood warnings and 143 flood alerts today. 

The agency also has 79 flood alerts in effect across the rest of England. The Met Office has also issued more than a dozen warnings for heavy rain and high winds covering most of Britain.

In Surrey, more than 400 houses around Brockham lost power after a car flipped over and crashed into a utility pole following heavy rain brought by Storm Babet.

No one was believed to be hurt in the crash, which happened after torrential rain hit large parts of the country over the last 24 hours.

Power was switched off by UK Power Networks whilst engineers carried out emergency repairs.

The M4 in Wiltshire has been closed in both directions between junction 18 for Bath and junction 17 for Chippenham due to a serious collision after a lorry overturned. 

It is not yet clear if the crash is linked to the inclement weather; flooding was reported elsewhere on the motorway, between junctions 16 and 17, earlier today.

Rail services across the country have been heavily disrupted: Transport for Wales has urged people not to travel following rain, while Network Rail teams across the country have shared images of flooded stations and railway lines.

Good Morning Britain correspondent Nitya Rajan was told to come away from the edge of Whitley Bay harbour as it was battered by winds while she delivered a live broadcast

BRECHIN: A woman in the Angus town is helped to safety in an inflatable dinghy by members of the Coastguard

Brits have taken to social media across the country to talk about weather where they are – with many describing conditions as ‘biblical’

ScotRail said train services remain suspended on several routes in north and north-east Scotland across Aberdeen, Perthshire and Fife, while railway services setting off from or towards northern Scotland have been scrapped.

Delays are expected between Newcastle and Edinburgh due to speed restrictions.

LNER said there will be no services operating north of Edinburgh today, and a ‘do not travel’ message is in place for this part of the route. National Rail Enquiries said several routes in north-west England and north Wales are closed due to flooding.

These include all lines between Chester and Crewe; between Wrexham Central and Bidston; and between Hooton and both Chester and Ellesmere Port. Some lines are also blocked between Crewe and Shrewsbury.

On the roads in London, where more than an inch of rain fell overnight, a driver had a lucky escape late on Thursday after their white Audi Q3 overturned on the North Circular; the Met Police said they avoided serious injury.

Pictures from the capital on Friday morning showed commuters, including cyclists, battling deep puddles and standing water as they tried to get to work.

Trunk roads across the country have also been closed or diverted amid dangerous weather conditions. 

National Highways said the A15 Humber Bridge between North Lincolnshire and East Yorkshire is closed in both directions to ‘high-sided and vulnerable vehicles’ due to strong winds.

Several sections of major Scottish roads are closed due to Storm Babet, Traffic Scotland said, including parts of the A85, A9 and A90 across Tayside and Aberdeenshire, as well as the A7 in Langholm, Dumfries and Galloway, due to a fallen tree.

Motorists have been advised to take care crossing bridges including the Erskine Bridge, Queensferry Crossing and the Skye Bridge. 

SUNDERLAND: Sea foam coats the beachfront at Seaburn as violent waves are whipped up by Storm Babet

BRECHIN: A woman walks through flood waters as residents are asked to evacuate by the local authorities

HARTLEPOOL: Huge waves have been battering the harbourside of the north-eastern town

ABERDEEN: Huge foamy waves hit the beach promenade in Aberdeen on Friday morning

BRECHIN: A woman looks out of her window at cars submerged in floodwater 

LONDON: The driver of this Audi Q3 had a lucky escape after their car overturned on the North Circular late on Thursday. The Met Police said he avoided serious injury

BRENT: A delivery van ploughs through deep standing water in north London on Friday after more than an inch of rain fell on the capital overnight

LEEDS: A reveller looks as though she regrets her decision to go out amid heavy rainfall in the north of England early on Friday

However, motoring groups have warned drivers to consider whether their journeys are truly necessary – and to consider delaying them until conditions clear up. 

RAC spokesman Rod Dennis said the weather is making driving challenging, adding: ‘We urge drivers to heed the warnings, especially where flooding has already happened or is likely over the next few days.

‘Drivers should never attempt to drive through floodwater as the risks are just too great. It’s vital anyone who absolutely has to travel prepares themselves for a longer journey, or considers waiting until the storm has passed before making it.’

READ MORE HERE: Met Office storm names: How weather events get their titles – and what next season’s tempests will be called 

AA patrol of the year Nick Powell said it is ‘very likely trees and debris will be littering the roads’, adding: ‘As always in wet and windy weather, leave plenty of space behind other vehicles and adjust your speed to suit the conditions, especially when crossing bridges or passing high-sided vehicles.

‘There may be traffic delays so make sure you bring essentials with you on your journey, even if it is only short, such as warm layers, a hot drink and a fully charged mobile phone.’

Severe flood warnings have been expanded for the River Esk in Scotland, including into Aberdeenshire; authorities have warned it could burst its banks.

A helicopter search is being carried out in Aberdeenshire following reports of a man trapped in a vehicle; police and coastguard crews are searching an area near Marykirk, near the North Esk river, after the alarm was raised early on Friday.

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: ‘Around 3am on Friday October 20 2023, police received a report of a man within a vehicle trapped in floodwater near Marykirk.

‘Multi-agency searches are ongoing and the public are asked to avoid the area for their safety.’

Fire crews and the coastguard began evacuating residents from the town of Brechin, Angus on Thursday night – knocking on residents’ doors advising them to leave the area.

Dramatic scenes broadcast live on BBC Breakfast showed Scottish Fire and Rescue Service workers in dinghies taking residents of the east coast Scottish town to safety; three evacuation centres have been set up to support the displaced. 

Community groups on social media are awash with requests for blankets and spare clothing to be donated to help those who have had to abandon their homes; Angus Council itself has launched an appeal as river levels rose 4.4m above normal.

In extraordinary statements issued overnight on Thursday and into Friday, the authority said parts of the region were ‘now only accessible via boat’.

BRENT: A Smart car ploughs through standing water in north London on Friday morning after more than an inch of rain fell on the capital overnight 

GREENWICH: A car makes a splash as it tries to navigate a waterlogged road in south-east London early on Friday morning

BRENT: An electric bus carrying early morning commuters braves wheel-deep water on Friday

It added: ‘Emergency rest centres in Brechin, Montrose and Forfar are open to all those in need in Angus, pets are welcome too.

‘We now have in excess of 40 adults who have arrived at the (Brechin) rest centre with only the soaked clothes they have arrived in.’

Scotland’s First Minister, Humza Yousaf – who lives in Dundee, just south of Angus – shared an Angus Council post, tweeting: ‘I cannot stress how dangerous condition are in Brechin in particular. Listen to the advice… it is for your own safety. Situation will worsen as rainfall continues.’

Councillor Jill Scott, who lives in Brechin, said the floods are ‘horrific’ with people trapped and hundreds of homes flooded.

She told PA a family of three – a woman in her 60s, her son and her grandson – contacted her at around 5am having left their ground floor flat to huddle in an upstairs hallway for warmth.

They are unable to be rescued due to the force of the floodwaters, the independent councillor said, adding: ‘It’s horrific. It’s just absolutely horrendous. I’ve never seen anything like it.

‘People are trapped in closes…Some have been stuck there for hours. The boats are trying to get to them. They can’t get to them because the current is too strong.

‘There will be hundreds of houses flooded. It’s unbelievable. It’s devastating. I don’t know what the council’s going to do to be honest – how many people they are going to have to rehome. People will have lost everything.’

Another local councillor, Chris Beattie, added: ‘The bottom of the town is under about five or six feet of water.’

The Met Office said some communities could be cut off for several days by severe flooding, while the British Geological Survey has warned the storm could also cause landslides in Scotland.

Gusts in excess of 60mph are likely on Friday, with particularly poor conditions on immediate coastlines with large waves adding to the list of hazards.

The Met Office says the highest amount of rainfall recorded since the start of yesterday has been 164mm (6.4in) at Waterside Perth in Scotland.

But this is still way off the record, after some 238mm of rain was measured at Sloy Main Adit in Argyll & Bute between 9am on January 17, 1974 and 9am the following day.

BRECHIN: Members of the coastguard attempt to evacuate people from their homes 

STONEHAVEN: Waves crash over the sea wall in the harbour on Thursday as Storm Babet batters the country

STONEHAVEN: The waves crash against the harbour amid a rare red weather alert in Scotland

PERTHSHIRE: Cars avoid debris from a tree which was snapped in half by high winds in the storm

BRECHIN: Police and the coastguard went door to door checking on residents in Brechin, Scotland late on Thursday evening 

BRECHIN: Hundreds of people has been evacuated in Brechin after torrential downpours posed a ‘danger to life’ with the Met Office issuing a severe red weather warning

HAMPSHIRE: People braving the weather at Southsea as Storm Babet arrived on Thursday

This is the highest total on record in Scotland for what the Met Office calls a ‘rainfall day’: the 24 hours from 9am to 9am.

The highest equivalent total recorded in England is 279mm, on July 18, 1955 at Martinstown in Dorset, while the highest in Wales is 211mm, on November 11, 1929 at Lluest Wen Reservoir in Mid Glamorgan.

The highest in Northern Ireland is 159mm, recorded on October 31, 1968 at Tollymore Forest in County Down.

The highest total for any 24-hour period in the UK is 341.4mm, recorded from 6pm December 4, 2015 to 6pm the following day at Honister Pass in Cumbria.

Deputy First Minister Shona Robison has said the ‘worst impacts are yet to come’ with 10,000 homes across Britain being without power in addition to the evacuations in Scotland.

One river in Perth and Kinross was found to have tripled in height to more than four feet in the space of just 12 hours. 

Police were forced to close off a street in Brechin, Angus, after exceptional rainfall threatened to breach the town’s flood defences.

River Street, next to the South River Esk, was fully blocked by a police patrol vehicle as well as signposts advising there is no entry onto the street, as members of the coastguard made door-to-door enquiries to check on residents’ safety. 

Heavy showers also battered parts of England and Wales on Thursday night, causing travel disruption. Amber warnings are in place for northern England, the Midlands and Wales.

The rain arrived in southeast England overnight, spreading to most areas by dawn. The unsettled weather is set to remain today and through to the weekend, with strong winds reaching 80mph.  

Ms Robison said: ‘Protecting the public is our immediate priority and we are co-ordinating a national effort to ensure that people are safe.

‘The red warning has been expanded to cover further parts of Scotland and we expect weather conditions to deteriorate seriously overnight. Our message is clear – if you live in the areas covered by the red warning, please stay at home and do not travel, unless advised to relocate to a rest centre.

‘With weather warnings in place for much of the country, I would urge everyone to be vigilant and to exercise extreme caution. No matter where you live, please make sure you stay up to date with conditions affecting your area.

‘If you need to travel in a yellow warning area then make sure you can travel safely and that roads and services are not impacted.

‘We are working with partners across the country, including emergency services, the voluntary sector and energy companies, to make sure that we mitigate disruption as much as possible.

‘However, we are clear that there will be considerable disruption and we expect to launch a major clean-up operation as we move into the weekend.’ 

BRECHIN: A car drives past a fallen tree in the Angus town on Thursday – ahead of huge overnight flooding

SOUTH SHIELDS, TYNE AND WEAR: Enormous waves crash onto South Shields pier in the North East on Thursday morning at sunrise

STONEHAVEN, SCOTLAND: People stand on the harbour as waves crash around them yesterday

MIDLETON, CORK: A person wades through the waters of a the knee-deep flooded street in Ireland on Thursday

CAMBRIDGE: Tourists shelter under umbrellas to try and avoid getting a soaking as they go for a punt in a downpour on the River Cam yesterday

ESSEX: A vehicle is left completely submerged in a ford as heavy rain caused roads to flood

How Babet was named after a Dutch woman born during a gale

Storm Babet was named after a woman from the Netherlands who said she had been born during a gale.

The Met Office compiles its annual list of storm names in conjunction with the Dutch and Irish weather services.

The Dutch weather service organised an open day last year, inviting visitors to submit suggestions for names – and Babet was among those involved, reported the Daily Telegraph. 

Further down the list is Storm Elin, which was named after a visitor who said they had a ‘tempestuous granddaughter’ with the same name.

It came as the Met Office issued an extremely rare ‘danger to life’ red warning from 6pm on Thursday through to midday on Friday with over a month’s worth of rainfall expected in the worst-affected regions. 

Forecasters had initially warned that the east of Scotland, including Brechin, Forfar and Kirriemuir, could be hit hardest with ‘exceptionally heavy and persistent rain’. It has since been spread wider to include parts of Dundee and western Tayside.

The last red warning anywhere in the UK for rain was in February 2022 for Storm Eunice.

The Met Office has also issued a new amber warning for parts of northern England, the Midlands and Wales as Storm Babet sparks chaos in the UK. Workmen have been pictured putting flood defences up as Britain prepares for a deluge of rain.

The warning is in place from noon on Friday to 6am on Saturday due to persistent heavy rain. Homes and businesses are likely to be flooded and some communities could be cut off by impacted roads.

Between 40 and 60mm of rain is likely, with the potential for between 80 and 120mm on higher ground, the Met Office said. 

It comes as Storm Babet has caused mayhem on Thursday with trains cancelled, roads blocked and Britons warned to stay at home as gale force winds and torrential rain hit the UK.

The second named storm of the season hammered Ireland yesterday as dozens of cars were submerged and washed away, while businesses, supermarkets and hospitals fell victim to the destructive floods. 

But Storm Babet, named after a woman from the Netherlands who said she had been born during a gale, is now starting to wreak havoc in Britain.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency has said they are expecting ‘extensive river and surface water flooding’ as Storm Babet hits.

Angus Council said that anyone affected by the storm in Brechin, Angus, should evacuate

PORTLAND: A rainbow appears over the Bibby Stockholm on Thursday with ominous grey skies above 

PERTH: Flood barriers are installed on Queen’s Bridge as heavy rain and wind batters the city

DORSET: Environment Agency staff repair concrete wave barriers installed along parts of the seafront in Swanage

EDZELL: A dog walker and her dog at a flood defence barrier erected on Church street in the Scottish village

BRECHIN: Some 360 homes in the Scottish town will be evacuated. Here, Local resident Christopher McGuire places sand bags at houses as Storm Babet closes in

LONDON: Met Office issues rare ‘danger to life’ warning as Britain braces for Storm Babet today 

COUNTY CORK: Britain is bracing itself for Storm Babet after devastating floods sparked chaos in Midleton, Cork, including at this Supervalu supermarket

SEAHAM, COUNTY DURHAM: Storm Babet batters the north east coast of England this morning as waves as big as 20ft are pictured battering Seaham light house

GLOUCESTER: Motorists have been warned to drive safely following a bad crash on the M5 

DORSET: Shocked locals dodge the sea spray as big waves were seen crashing into the coast at Mudeford Quay

LONDON: Commuters were seen struggling with their umbrellas as the storm threatens to cause chaos in England

COUNTY CORK: This is the moment that a car is washed away by biblical floods in Ireland – as Britain braces for over a month’s worth of rain and 70mph gale force winds today

‘Take action now to protect yourself and your property. Hazards can be hidden, so please don’t walk or drive into flood water. Remember that not only is flood water likely to be dirty, 30 cm of fast flowing water can move an average family sized car, and just 15 cm of fast flowing water could be enough to knock you off your feet.’

Scottish Water warned of the risk of sewer flooding and said staff are on standby. The organisation said sewer flooding reports are expected to increase as drainage systems become overwhelmed by the extreme rainfall.

John Griffen, Scottish Water’s water operations general manager said: ‘We have activated contingency plans including increasing the numbers of staff and contractors on standby to support customers experiencing sewer flooding, and protect our critical infrastructure across water and waste water services.

‘Plans are in place for known sewer flooding hotspots with tankers on-site, and we encourage any customer experiencing sewer flooding to report it as soon as possible…’

Mass train cancellations have been imposed by ScotRail, expected to last from today until Saturday with trains suspended in North and North East Scotland while the South and West will also be hit by delays today.

Services have been suspended between Aberdeen and Elgin; Edinburgh and Aberdeen via Fife; and Perth and Aberdeen via Dundee.

Stagecoach has also warned bus passengers of disruption in eastern Scotland today. It said the X7 bus route from Aberdeen to Perth will be impacted by the closure of Lower Northwater Bridge in Aberdeenshire. Highland Council has announced that all its bus services will be suspended until further notice too.

The Royal Family’s Balmoral castle and estate has been closed to the public today and tomorrow due to the weather in Aberdeenshire. All facilities at Cairngorm Mountain in Aviemore have also been closed today due to the storm.

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