STORM Francis has been declared a “danger to life” as Britain is lashed by its 80mph winds and torrential rain.
Homes have been flooded, trees toppled, rail lines blocked and campers rescued, with forecasters warning of disruption to transport and power cuts.
The Met Office has issued a yellow weather warning which means “injuries and danger to life from flying debris are possible” from Storm Francis’s winds.
A man was believed to have died after falling into the River Taff in Cardiff city centre while a separate search was launched eight miles down river for a missing kayaker.
Roads including the A30 in Cornwall were blocked and flood-hit train lines left impassable.
Avanti West Coast, Northern, TransPennine Express and Transport for Wales were among the services hit with flights and ferries also affected.
Two people killed in a car crash on the A52 near Derby during heavy rain on Saturday have been named as mum-of-three Tanya Jackson, 29, and dad-of-two Brett Rogers, 37.
Storm Drancis is the result of 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 gusts of 74mph have been recorded at Lake Vyrnwy in Powys, Wales – the highest August gust in this location since 1994.
Aberdaron in the Welsh county of Gwynedd has recorded gusts of 71mph, the highest since August 1996.
Gusts of 68mph were recorded at Pembrey Sands, 52mph was recorded at Shobdon in Herefordshire, and 49mph was recorded at Pershore in Worcestershire – all August highs for these locations.
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,
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.
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.
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 11pm Tuesday, the Environment Agency has issued five flood warnings – where they are expected and 22 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.
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’.
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.”
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.