How the jet stream shifted the storm tracks
October was the wettest month on record for eastern Scotland, with some areas receiving more than three times the usual rainfall. This was largely due to the jet stream, a band of fast-moving air that influences the weather patterns across the globe. The jet stream pushed the main storm systems further south across England and Wales, leaving Scotland in an easterly air flow. This brought moist air from the North Sea, which dumped heavy rain on the eastern parts of the country.
The impact of Storm Babet and Ciaran
Two of the most intense storms that hit eastern Scotland in October were Storm Babet and Storm Ciaran. Storm Babet brought over 100mm of rain in just one day to some parts of Aberdeenshire, causing extreme flooding and landslides. People had to be rescued from their homes, roads were closed, and bridges were damaged. Storm Ciaran followed a few days later, bringing more rain and strong winds to the already saturated region. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) issued several flood warnings and alerts, urging people to stay away from rivers and coastal areas.
The wettest and driest locations in Scotland
According to the Met Office, Aboyne in Aberdeenshire was one of the wettest locations in October, with 316mm of rain. This broke the previous record by nearly 100mm and was three times the usual rainfall for the month. Balmoral and Leuchars also set new records, with 276mm and 203mm respectively. These locations have over 100 years of weather records, making their records more significant. In contrast, Auchincruive in Ayrshire had just 90mm of rain for the month, which is less than a third of what Aboyne received. Dundrennan on the southern coast of Dumfries and Galloway had less than half the usual rainfall for October, with just 88mm.
The outlook for November and beyond
The wet weather is expected to continue in November, as another storm, Dara, is forecast to bring more rain and wind to eastern Scotland. SEPA has warned that the ground is already saturated and any further rainfall could cause more flooding and disruption. The Met Office has also advised people to be prepared for possible power cuts, travel delays, and damage to property. The long-term outlook for winter is uncertain, as it depends on how the jet stream behaves in the coming months. Some experts have suggested that a La Niña event could influence the jet stream and bring colder and drier conditions to Scotland, while others have predicted that warmer and wetter weather will persist.
The implications of climate change for Scotland
The record-breaking rainfall and flooding in eastern Scotland are consistent with the projections of climate change, which indicate that extreme weather events will become more frequent and intense in the future. According to Climate Central, a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture, which means more rain when it falls. Climate change also affects the jet stream, making it more wavy and erratic, which can lead to persistent weather patterns that cause droughts or floods in different regions. Scotland is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, as it has a long coastline, a mountainous terrain, and a high population density in urban areas. The Scottish government has recognised the need to adapt to climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but more action is needed to prevent further damage to people and nature.