Storm Dennis 7pm update: Amber rain alert for York as council closes some car parks

Flashback to Monday after the River Ouse level peaked following Storm Ciara. Photograph: Danny Lawson / PA Wire
14 Feb 2020 @ 7.50 am
| Weather

Only days after Storm Ciara, more rough weather is heading our way.

Storm Dennis is due to break over the UK this weekend. At 11.34am on Friday, the Met Office upgraded its warning for rain for York from yellow to amber, which means homes and businesses are likely to be flooded, causing damage to some buildings, and fast flowing or deep floodwater is likely “causing danger to life”.

The warning covers noon on Saturday (15 February) till 3pm on Sunday.

There’s also a yellow warning for wind. City of York Council said: “With an unusual combination of high rainfall, snow melt and saturated ground, river levels are predicted to rise.

“As a result, the council will be putting in place all flood defences along the Ouse over the next 24 hours.”

Residents are advised to check local travel advice, leave extra space for all types of vehicles and never drive through flood water.

Met Office meteorologist Matthew Box said inland gusts could reach 50mph by Saturday afternoon.

He said: “The winds will be a touch down on what we saw with Ciara but the focus is on a bit more rain with Storm Dennis due to the persistence of the rain.”

Car parks closed

A car stranded by floodwater in St George’s Field car park after Storm Ciara. Photograph: Sam Rowntree
City of York Council is closing some car parks which are usually affected by flooding, and providing alternative parking elsewhere in the city.

Esplanades, Rowntree Park and St George’s Field car parks are closed. Anyone already parked in the car parks can continue to park there but must remove their car by the end of the day.

Park and Ride sites remain the best option for day visitors, and the council is opening Moor Lane car park 24/7 primarily for coaches, which will be free of charge until St George’s field coach park is operational.

Coaches can continue to park in Union Terrace car park as normal.

Any residents in an area along an Ouse flood zone can move their cars into any of the remaining car parks or neighbouring resident parking zones, including businesses but must display their parking so they will not be charged.

Rail restrictions

There will be speed restrictions on the rail network over the weekend. As a result, extended journey times, short-notice delays and cancellations are expected.

Network Rail said “heavy rainfall could lead to flash flooding in some areas, which could lead to localised service disruption”.

Director for the north and east route Matt Rice said:

  • I would like to reassure passengers across Yorkshire and the North East that we will have extra teams on hand this weekend to keep services moving.

    We are working closely with train operators to minimise any impact which Storm Dennis has as it has the potential to bring some localised flooding and disruption to services.

    We strongly advise passengers to allow plenty of time for their journeys, as they may take longer than usual.

Warrick Dent, LNER safety and operations director, said: “We are encouraging our customers with tickets dated for Saturday 15 February or Sunday 16 February to defer travel to Monday 17 February, where possible.

“We expect services to be extremely busy throughout the weekend and will have extra staff on duty to help.”

Defences in place

Flood defences in York. Photograph: City of York Council
are putting in place all the Ouse’s flood defences to protect homes, businesses and keep York open for business as usual ahead of the arrival of Storm Dennis.

Executive member for climate Cllr Paula Widdowson said:

  • We are as confident as we can be that our flood defences will protect those homes and businesses at risk.

    And we’re taking precautions to keep our fantastic city open so residents and businesses can enjoy all York has to offer, including this weekend’s Jorvik Viking festival.

    We are contacting individuals and communities along the Ouse identified as being at risk if river levels continue to rise as expected.

    We’re also closing some car parks to make sure that cars don’t get trapped in any flooding which occurs – but we’re opening up new spaces for visitors, coaches and of course residents in flood zones to move their cars.


As at 5pm today (Friday) the River Ouse water level was 3.05m.

The Environmental Agency says rain totals could be around 20mm to 40mm. It said preparations were under way to operate flood defences, including the Foss Barrier in York.

Half term begins tomorrow, and a busy week of events is planned at York’s attractions.

The Jorvik Viking Festival has switched some venues for the weekend and early part of the week as a way to beat Storm Dennis.

Following on from Storm Ciara, the River Ouse peaked at 4.35m (0.85m lower than the 2015 peak) at 6am on 11 February. No properties were flooded internally and defences installed since 2015 have been operating effectively.