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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Sarah Ward

Floods compared to Beast from the East amid warmest October in five years

PA Wire

Flooding in Scotland has been compared to conditions during the Beast from the East in 2018, as southern parts of the UK enjoyed the warmest October in five years.

The Scottish Government held crisis talks for the second day to plan support for communities vulnerable to flooding, as the Met Office revealed it was the warmest day in October since 2018 elsewhere.

Some 55 flood alerts were issued by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) including for Aviemore in the Highlands, and Perth, which are subject to a “severe” warning. The Met Office warning is now yellow.

The Met Office revealed temperatures in southern Britain were the warmest in five years, with average early October temperatures in London are typically 17C, compared to 25C in Northolt, Greater London.

In Cardiff, it reached highs of 22C, compared to typical average temperatures of 16C.

Police Scotland said communities “faced some of the most challenging conditions ever”, after 10 motorists were airlifted to safety on Saturday due to landslides on the A83 in Argyll and Bute, which dislodged 2,000 tonnes of debris. Another four were airlifted in Kilmartin, Argyll and Bute.

Comparisons were drawn with the Beast from the East, a cold snap in February 2018 which caused chaos in Scotland, after some regions experienced a month’s rainfall in 24 hours.

The Met Office posted on X, formerly known as Twitter: “It’s been another unseasonably warm day for most – in fact the warmest October day for 5 years. But northern parts of Scotland have been much colder.”

Head of transport resilience at Transport Scotland, Stein Connelly, said: “It’s been an extremely challenging 72 hours, with perhaps some of most difficult conditions we’ve experienced since the Beast from the East.

“In terms of Argyll, the area around the A83 Rest and Be Thankful saw a month’s worth of rainfall, around 160mm, fall over 36 hours. Only a small amount of debris has reached the road at the Rest and Be Thankful itself.

“Safety inspections are now under way, and teams are on site to begin clear-up operations once it is deemed safe to do so.”

Police Scotland Assistant Chief Constable Tim Mairs said: “Communities across Scotland have dealt with some of the most challenging conditions they have faced.

“While the picture is gradually improving, we are still dealing with flooding, a number of road closures and hazardous driving conditions due to surface water, so I would remind people to please exercise caution on the roads.

“The situation in Argyll and Bute remains extremely challenging, with a number of main routes closed. In that area I would urge people to consider if their journey is really necessary or if it can be delayed until conditions improve further.”

Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Home Affairs Angela Constance said: “The rainfall we have seen over Scotland this weekend has been extreme, causing significant disruption – particularly in the west and north of the country.

“These impacts are ongoing, and I want to put on record my thanks to all the staff and volunteers responding across the country.

“The flooding risk remains a key concern over the next few hours and days, with extremely high river levels and saturated ground.

“Our multi-agency response teams stand ready and prepared to respond to any flooding incidents.

“Travel disruption has continued on Sunday and the priority is now to restore normality as far as possible by Monday morning. I would urge anyone planning to travel over the next few days to do so with caution.”

Aviemore in the Highlands remains at “severe” risk of flooding, while red alerts were issued by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) for Findhorn, Nairn, Moray and Speyside, meaning buildings were at risk of collapse and there was a danger to life.

Amber alerts issued by Sepa remained for Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City, Argyll and Bute, Central, Dundee and Angus, Easter Ross and Great Glen, Skye and Lochaber, and Tayside.

Tyndrum, west Perthshire, was hit by 112.6mm of rain, according to the Met Office.

Sand bags and road closures were in place in Kingussie near Aviemore, the Highlands, amid a severe warning, while a Tesco car park at Oban, Argyll and Bute, was overwhelmed by floodwater, and bus passengers were said to have taken refuge overnight at Lochgilphead High School, also in Oban.

Local authorities were setting up refuge centres on Sunday evening.

Flood duty manager for Sepa, Vincent Fitzsimons, said: “It’s a day to stay alert, not stand down. The risk to life remains.”

Communities in northern Scotland were told rivers could continue to rise, particularly the Spey and Tay.

Since 6pm two flood warnings have been removed, for Aberfoyle and Bridge of Allan, both near Stirling, but 53 remain, according to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa).

Ruth Ellis, Sepa’s flood duty manager, said: “Some rivers will continue to rise over the course of the evening. The risk to life remains.

“There is still deep standing water and really it’s important people understand the danger.

“Not only is flood water likely to be dirty, 30cm of fast flowing water can move an average family sized car, and just 15cm of fast flowing water could be enough to knock you off your feet.

“We will continue to provide information and support to ensure Scotland recovers and becomes more resilient to future flooding.”

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