Severe rainfall and winds are expected to pelt Britain this week, leading to heavy flooding that could put lives at risk in eastern Scotland, Britain’s national weather service warned on Wednesday.
Fall is typically wet and windy in Scotland, and earlier this month floodwaters submerged streets, damaged railways and swept away unharvested crops. But the red alert on Wednesday — the highest rain alert issued by the weather agency, the Met Office — signaled the possible severity of the incoming Storm Babet, and officials urged residents to brace for dangerous conditions beginning on Thursday.
As much as a month’s worth of rain is expected to fall between Thursday and Friday in Scotland, according to the forecast, with some areas expecting 250 millimeters, or 9.8 inches, of rain. That is more than fell in Scotland in the entire month of October in 2022 — about 196 millimeters, or 7.7 inches.
Torrential rain could flood homes, cut off power and other essential services, and leave communities isolated for several days, the agency said. The fast-flowing and rising floodwaters, it added, could pose a “danger to life.”
The storm will bring heavy rain to Scotland’s southwest on Wednesday before moving to the northeast on Thursday and into the weekend, David Morgan, flood duty manager for the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, said in a release. With earlier rain already filling rivers and saturating catchments, Mr. Morgan said, “we’re urging people to be prepared for potential flooding.”
Winds of more than 70 miles per hour were also likely on Thursday, the weather agency said, especially near Scottish coastlines, which are vulnerable to landslides.
The heavy rain and winds will also hit Northern Ireland and England, which have weather warnings in place.
Local authorities and residents in Scotland prepared on Wednesday for the worst as Humza Yousaf, the first minister of Scotland, cautioned of “challenging weather” ahead. “Travel should be avoided unless absolutely essential,” he said on social media, adding that the government was collaborating with emergency services to try mitigate disruptions.
The brunt of the storm is expected to affect the northeastern Scottish regions of Angus and Aberdeenshire, and local officials have cleared gullies and offered sandbags to residents trying to protect their property from floodwater.
Network Rail, which oversees Britain’s railway infrastructure, advised people living near railways in Scotland to secure tents, trampolines and garden furniture to prevent them from blowing onto tracks.
The weather agency last issued the highest extreme rain alert in 2020 during Storm Dennis, which left at least three people dead and submerged streets in parts of England, Wales and Scotland. The storm was one of the most intense to batter the North Atlantic and raised questions about the country’s preparedness for intense flooding.
While it is difficult to attribute individual weather events directly to climate change, scientists say that a warming planet leads to worsening extreme rainfall in many storms.