THERE are grave fears for two people missing in a rising river today as Storm Francis batters Britain with record-breaking 74mph winds.
A 700 mile-wide ‘Canadian low pressure vortex’ is bringing wild gusts, heavy downpours and some of the worst summer weather for 50 years.
A desperate search is underway for two people who have been missing for hours in the River Taff north of Cardiff, Wales.
Emergency services were searching the river after reports of a person entering the water near Principality Stadium at 8.40am, while a member of the public reported seeing a canoeist capsize around 9.50 this morning.
Air ambulance and hazardous rescue teams are frantically searching for the pair as the public is warned to stay away from the area.
Meanwhile in the River Ely nearby in Leckwith, Cardiff, a woman had to be rescued after she chased after her dog into the water.
Both her and her pet were rescued by a lifeboat, and although they were “obviously cold and wet both appeared in good spirits and were taken for medical checks”, the Penarth Lifeboat Station posted on Facebook.
A number of places in England and Wales have recorded their highest-ever winds in August.
The Met Office said winds of 74mph have been recorded at Lake Vyrnwy in Powys, Wales – the highest in August there since 1994.
Aberdaron in the Welsh county of Gwynedd has recorded gusts of 71mph, the highest since 1996.
Gusts of 68mph were recorded at Pembrey Sands, 52mph was recorded at Shobdon in Herefordshire, and 49mph was recorded at Pershore in Worcestershire.
Storm Francis was upgraded to an Amber Weather Warning this afternoon, with the Met Service saying that a danger to life was “likely”.
Forecasters are predicting heavy rainfall – up to 3.5 inches in places – during a 36-hour weather window.
More than 500 homes are without power in Gloucestershire this afternoon due to the high winds.
There are reports of more than 40 trees down across the county,
There were also power cuts to more than 120 homes in the West Country by 6am this morning.
Dozens of villages in Devon and Cornwall have been warned that 90mm of rain could fall during the storm.
Cops said roads could turn into “lakes” and have warned drivers to take care behind the wheel.
Homes have flooded and a group of campers have been stranded in Wales.
Firefighters rescued the campers who are close to “fast-flowing water” in Carmarthenshire, the BBC reported.
The Met Office has warned that people could be hurt by “flying debris”, while large waves could threaten lives.
According to the Met Office, gusts of 67mph were recorded at the Isles of Scilly between 8am and 9am on Tuesday morning, while they reached 73mph at the Needles on the Isle of Wight in the same period.
An Environment Agency recording taken between 11pm on Monday and 7am on Tuesday logged 65.8mm dropping at White Barrow in Devon.
In the same period, Natural Resources Wales recorded 61.4mm falling at Tavernspite in Carmarthenshire, Wales, while Spite in Glamorganshire saw 56.2mm.
Three Met Office yellow weather warnings of heavy rain or strong winds cover most of the UK on Tuesday, with stormy conditions expected to last until Wednesday morning.
Warnings of rain cover Northern Ireland, southern Scotland, northern England and parts of North Wales.
Forecasters predict gusts of up to 70mph could batter exposed coasts and hills across Wales and most of England.
The M48 bridge across the River Severn has been closed in both directions due to the increased wind speeds.
The Highways Agency reported a fallen tree temporarily blocking the A30 in Cornwall, while another toppled tree brought disruption by blocking the rail line between Gunnislake in Cornwall and Plymouth in Devon, before being cleared.
At Neath in South Wales, flooding caused lines to be closed for part of the morning, with knock-on delays of up to 60 minutes.
Flooding on the line between Fernhill and Aberdare, also in South Wales, triggered a suspension to services.
In Northern Ireland, police reported an incident of a river bursting its banks near Newcastle, as well as roads blocked by flooding, a fallen tree and downed power line.
As of midday on Tuesday, the Environment Agency has issued 22 flood alerts for England, largely in the South West and West Midlands.
In Burnham-on-Sea, an ice cream van got stuck on the beach yesterday afternoon.
As a few hardy souls ventured out on to the beach in the break in the awful weather, the ice cream driver saw the chance for some Cornetto sales.
Staycationer holidaymakers gratefully queued to buy – but in his eagerness he ventured too far on to the sands and began sinking.
A team from the local BARB Search and Rescue, who operate hovercrafts in the Bridgwater Bay area, were called out.
The ice cream van’s wheels had sunk into the soft sand near the jetty following heavy rain.
The coastguard alerted the rescue organisation who managed to pull the bright yellow vehicle free using a truck.
Millionaire homeowners on Sandbanks have had their sea views blighted by a huge oil platform seeking shelter from Storm Francis.
The JB-115 self-elevating platform has stopped in Poole Harbour, Dorset, to take shelter from the elements and is currently sitting in the shadow of the exclusive peninsula.
Storm Francis is expected to batter Dorset today with heavy rain and strong winds of up to 60mph.
Once the storm has passed the platform, which is used for wind farm and oil rig maintenance, will continue on its journey to Morecambe Field in the Irish Sea.
The status of the platform, which measures 182ft by 105ft with 262ft long legs, is currently listed as ‘restricted manoeuvrability’.
Meanwhile, Drivers in London were forced to negotiate torrents of water on the road as Storm Francis arrived with avengence in the early evening on Monday.
Eight flood alerts are already in place in England and Wales and ten in Scotland.
Shredded tents, blackouts and travel problems from toppled trees and floods are risks as millions are on UK breaks away from home, amid wind gusts usually seen in winter.
The Met Office has issued a new wind warning for all of Wales and most of England until Wednesday, as well as two heavy rain warnings for southern Scotland, north Wales and northern England.
Chief Meteorologist Andy Page said: “The UK is in for another unseasonably wet and windy spell with Storm Francis arriving on Tuesday.
“There will be strong winds and heavy rain, especially in the west of the UK.”
Conditions on roads around Wales were difficult on Tuesday morning
with flooding already reported in Skewen.
Police said that water in Bryntirion, Bridgend, is knee deep.
The train line between Neath and Cardiff has also been flooded with a
warning of wide-scale disruption on train services in the area, and a
fallen tree has blocked the rail line between Caerphilly and Rhymney.
A car was stranded in flooding at the a bridge in the Vale of Glamorgan.
Storm Francis is expected to clear by Wednesday lunchtime, leaving a brighter and more settled outlook for the remainder of the day, the Met Office said.
After Francis’ two-day buffeting, more wet and windy conditions follow from Thursday into the Bank Holiday weekend, when the Met Office is even forecasting summer frost, most likely in the North.
The arrival of Storm Francis follows a similar period of unseasonable weather towards the end of last week, coinciding with the arrival of Storm Ellen.
Nicola Williams, 15, was swept to her death in the Rhymney River in Llanrumney, Cardiff, and a 50-year-old holidaymaker die in the sea near Helston, west Cornwall, after getting into difficulties.
Nicola Maxey of the Met Office said: “Since 2015 when we started naming storms, we have never had to name a storm in August – and now we’ve had two in a few days.
“There are a lot of people on holiday in the UK at the moment, going camping and on walking breaks, many in coastal locations where the winds are likely to be stronger, so it is worth checking on the Met Office website ahead of time.”
Forecasters said the winds were “unusual” for August, but would have to go some way to beat the current record wind gust speed of 87mph recorded at The Needles on the Isle of Wight in August 1996.
Likewise, the wettest August on record in the UK was in 1912 when 167.3 mm was recorded across the country as a whole.
Between August 1 and 22, the UK as a whole had seen some 72.7mm of rainfall – around four-fifths of the average rainfall for the month.