Scotland is facing more wet and wintry weather after a weekend of record-breaking rainfall that caused landslides, floods and disruption across the country. A yellow weather warning for rain has been issued by the Met Office for Tuesday, covering parts of the northwest Highlands down to Glasgow and North Ayrshire. The warning also affects regions including Perth and Kinross, Stirling, Falkirk, Argyll and Bute, Renfrewshire and Lanarkshire.
How bad was the weekend’s weather?
The weekend’s weather was unprecedented in some areas, with Dunstaffnage in Argyll and Bute recording 68.8mm of rainfall in 24 hours, beating the previous record of 59.5mm held since October 1971. Some spots saw nearly a month’s worth of rainfall in just 24 hours on Saturday and Sunday, according to STV weather presenter Philip Petrie.
The heavy rain triggered landslides and floods that closed several major roads and stranded motorists. Ten people had to be airlifted from their vehicles after becoming trapped by debris on the A83 and the A815. Police Scotland are using drones to search for an elderly man reported missing from the Strathtay area on Sunday, who is suspected to have been swept away in the River Tay.
What are the impacts of the floods and landslides?
The floods and landslides have caused widespread damage and disruption to homes, businesses and infrastructure. The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) has issued ten flood alerts, 33 flood warnings and two severe flood warnings across Scotland, urging people to stay away from floodwaters and prepare for possible evacuation.
Some roads are likely to stay closed for some time as engineers assess the damage and clear the debris. Bear Scotland said work is “well under way” to clear the road but closures between Inveraray and Tarbet were still in place on the A83, where 9,500 tonnes of debris fell due to seven landslides. Bus and train services are also expected to face cancellations and delays as a result of the wet weather.
The floods and landslides have also affected wildlife and agriculture. The Scottish Wildlife Trust said some of its reserves have been flooded, affecting habitats and species such as otters, water voles and wading birds. The National Farmers Union Scotland said some farmers have lost crops and livestock due to the floods, while others have faced difficulties accessing their land or transporting their produce.
How are people coping with the weather crisis?
People across Scotland have been showing resilience and solidarity in the face of the weather crisis. Many have offered help and support to those affected by the floods and landslides, such as providing accommodation, food, water or transport. Some have also volunteered to assist with the clean-up efforts or donate to relief funds.
The Scottish government has activated its emergency response system and deployed resources to support local authorities and emergency services. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she was “very concerned” about the situation and thanked all those involved in the response. She also said the government would provide financial assistance to those affected by the floods through its Bellwin scheme.
The Met Office has praised the work of its staff and partners in providing accurate and timely forecasts and warnings that helped people prepare for the weather. It also said it was working closely with SEPA, Transport Scotland, Police Scotland and other agencies to monitor the situation and provide advice.
What is causing the extreme weather?
The extreme weather is caused by a combination of factors, including climate change, atmospheric patterns and local topography. Climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme rainfall events, as warmer air can hold more moisture. This means that when it rains, it rains harder and longer than before.
Atmospheric patterns also play a role in shaping the weather. The weekend’s rainfall was associated with a low pressure system that moved slowly across Scotland, bringing moist air from the Atlantic Ocean. The low pressure system was influenced by a phenomenon called the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), which is a variation in air pressure difference between Iceland and Portugal. When the NAO is positive, as it was over the weekend, it tends to bring wetter and milder weather to Scotland.
Local topography also affects how much rain falls in different areas. The northwest Highlands are exposed to moist air from the Atlantic Ocean, which rises over the mountains and cools down, releasing rain. The mountains also act as a barrier that prevents rain from reaching other parts of Scotland, creating a rain shadow effect.
What is the outlook for the rest of the week?
The outlook for the rest of the week is mixed, with some drier and brighter spells but also more showers and snow. The yellow weather warning for rain will stay in place from 6am to 9pm on Tuesday, with a small chance of more flooding and disruption. However, there will also be some sunny intervals between the showers.
Wednesday and Thursday will see a change in the weather, as the winds shift from a southwesterly to a northerly direction, bringing colder air from the Arctic. This will lower the temperatures below the average values for this time of year and increase the chance of snow on higher ground, and perhaps even down to lower levels on Orkney and Shetland.
Friday and the weekend will see a return of milder and wetter weather, as another low pressure system moves in from the Atlantic. This will bring more rain and strong winds, especially to the west and north of Scotland. However, there will also be some sunny spells and showers in between.
Will Scotland see more extreme weather in the future?
The future of Scotland’s weather is uncertain, but most climate models project that it will become more variable and extreme as a result of global warming. This means that Scotland could see more frequent and intense rainfall events, as well as more droughts, heatwaves, storms and snowfall.
The impacts of these weather extremes could be devastating for people, wildlife and the environment, unless adequate adaptation and mitigation measures are taken. These include improving flood defences, enhancing water management, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, restoring natural habitats and increasing public awareness and preparedness.
Scotland is not alone in facing the challenges of climate change. Many other countries around the world are also experiencing more extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, wildfires, floods and droughts. The global community needs to work together to address the root causes of climate change and its consequences, before it is too late.