By Lucy Ashton
Gales were blowing in off the River Clyde at Dumbarton at midnight tonight and householders were preparing to cope as Storm Babet makes its way up through the country.
Heavy rain and winds were expected to arrive early on Thursday morning with parts of the country that have already suffered flooding braced for more misery.
A rare ‘take action’ red weather warning has been issued covering the North East with 10 inches of rain expected to fall in some parts.
Waves on coasts will present a danger to life at Helensburgh and other towns on the Firth of Clyde and Dumbarton Quay was expected to flood yet again.
It is the first red warning to be issued in Scotland since November 2021 when Storm Arwen brought havoc to the east and north-east of the country.
Other yellow and amber warnings have also been issued by the Met Office up until Friday evening when the worst of Babet is expected to clear.
First Minister Humza Yousaf said: “Travel should be avoided unless absolutely essential.”
He added: “The Scottish Government is working with local resilience partners, including our emergency services, to ensure we keep everyone safe & mitigate disruption as best we can.”
ScotRail has also taken the step of cancelling services on some lines – the Glasgow-Helensburgh and Balloch lines were closed last week
Driving tips if you do have to venture out
A motoring expert has revealed a vital telltale sign that could save drivers from serious injury during Storm Babet – look out for twigs and leaves on the road, as there may be a felled tree ahead.
“This is more of a problem in rural areas, where the prospect of suddenly bearing down on some fallen timber on a narrow country lane could lead to a serious accident. But if you keep an eye out for a sudden influx of twigs and leaves in the road, this will give you an early indication that high winds have caused significant damage in the area.
“Being completely focused is a must when driving at any time, but in adverse weather conditions it’s even more important and any little clues such as these can help you stay safe.”
People are urged to not to travel and to stay at home in the affected areas with ‘exceptional’ levels of rain likely to result in significant disruption and danger to life.
There is a further Amber Warning for rain covering parts of Stirlingshire from Thursday morning (0600) until Friday evening (1800). In these Amber areas it is being advised people should avoid travel unless absolutely necessary.
Shona Robison chairs emergency meeting
Deputy First Minister Shona Robison chaired a meeting of the Scottish Government’s Resilience Room (SGoRR) tonight.
She said: “Red Warnings are rarely issued by the Met Office and this reflects how serious the impacts will be from the exceptional weather we can expect – particularly in the North East of Scotland in the next two days. The strong message is that if you are in the parts of Angus and South Aberdeenshire affected – please stay at home and do not travel.
“Other parts of Scotland are also at risk of flooding as rivers respond and drainage systems become overwhelmed. The risk is exacerbated by the fact that many catchments are already saturated following last week’s heavy rainfall and flooding.
“No one should take the risks for granted and I would urge everyone in the country to prepare where necessary, heed the travel warnings issued by Police Scotland and take extreme care around fast-flowing water.”
ScotRail suspends services
From the start of service on Thursday, 19 October, ScotRail will suspend services between:
- Aberdeen and Elgin.
- Edinburgh and Aberdeen via Fife.
- Perth and Aberdeen via Dundee.
- Dunblane and Perth.
- Perth and Aviemore.
- Tain and Wick / Thurso.
- All Fife Circle services.
This will affect services between Glasgow Queen Street and Aberdeen / Inverness, and between Edinburgh Waverley and Aberdeen / Inverness. No alternative transport will be in operation with the lines staying closed until early Saturday.
The train operator expects the line closures to last until early Saturday, 21 October, however, this is dependent on the weather conditions and any repair work to railway infrastructure that’s required. Other routes across the network will be impacted by precautionary speed restrictions, meaning services may be subject to delay or cancellation.
David Simpson, ScotRail Service Delivery Director, said: “The Met Office has issued red and amber weather warnings for Storm Babet, with heavy rain across eastern Scotland, and heavy rain and high winds in central and northern Scotland. We know the impact that the withdrawal of some train services will have on customers, but our first priority is always to ensure the safety of our staff and customers. This is a necessary step to ensure everyone’s safety during the severe weather.
“In order to keep our customers and staff safe, speed restrictions will be in place as a precautionary measure on other routes in Scotland, which will mean longer journey times. For routes in the south and west of Scotland, customers are encouraged check their journey before setting off, and keep an eye on our website, mobile app, or social media channels for live updates.”
Humza Yousaf says ‘travel should be avoided unless absolutely essential’
The First Minister has retweeted the Met Office warning and said: “Travel should be avoided unless absolutely essential.”
’30cm of floodwater can move a family car’
Pascal Lardet, SEPA Flood Duty Manager, said: “We’re expecting extensive river and surface water flooding in affected areas, with widespread impacts to transport and infrastructure. There is a risk of more significant community scale property flooding – and there will be danger to life.
“Regional Flood Alerts have already been issued, and localised Flood Warnings will be issued over the next few days as rivers respond. However, it is important to note that not all areas that could be affected have Flood Warning schemes, so please do take a Flood Alert in your area as advance notice that you could be affected.
“Take action now to protect yourself and your property. Hazards can be hidden, so please don’t walk or drive into flood water. Remember that not only is flood water likely to be dirty, 30 cm of fast flowing water can move an average family sized car, and just 15 cm of fast flowing water could be enough to knock you off your feet.”
Power firm’s tips for customers
Andy Smith, SSEN Distribution’s Director of Customer Operations for the north of Scotland, said: “We have been monitoring this severe and worsening weather for days now, and we have put plans in place to respond to the impact it may have. The additional teams we have in place will allow us to make repairs as quickly as the conditions allow us to do safely. We are also speaking to our most vulnerable customers directly, and we are sending helpful information to over 125,000 customers who are signed up to our Priority Services Register.”
SSEN is asking asking our customers to be prepared for the possibility of disruption to supplies by:
- Saving the emergency power cut number – ‘105’ – to your phone to report any loss of supply or damage to the electricity network
- Downloading SSEN’s Power Track app to give you details of power cuts and restoration times. You can also report power cuts and network damage through the Power Track app
- Going to SSEN’s website where there is a wealth of advice and information on how to deal with a power cut, or to chat live to one of SSE N’s advisors via its Webchat service
Energy company mobilises repair crew
SSN has confirmed it has started mobilising its repair crews ahead of Storm Babet. It will also contact 125,000 vulnerable customers on its Priority Services Register to offer advice on how to cope with a loss of electricity.
A spokesman said: “We are mobilising more teams to deal with any damage to the network and subsequent faults, which may impact customers’ power supplies. We are currently dispatching teams and equipment to the areas where we expect them to be needed the most. We will also deploy teams offering hot food to affected communities. Further information about the locations of these provisions will be issued in due course.
“We are proactively calling the most vulnerable customers on our Priority Services Register, to offer them further advice and support. In total, we are contacting more than 125,000 customers on the Register in the areas we expect to be affected by the storm. We are also coordinating with our local resilience partners to further assist preparations.”
All the weather warnings currently in place for Scotland
The red weather warning is just one of several alerts in place over the coming days as Storm Babet arrived. An amber warning for rain is in place from 6am on Thursday until 6pm on Friday covering Angus, Clackmannanshire, Dundee, Fife, Perth and Kinross, Stirling, Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Moray.
A further amber rain warning for parts of the Highlands has also been issued from 6pm on Thursday until 9am on Friday. A third amber warning, for wind, covers Angus, Dundee, Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire from 10am on Thursday until 6pm on Thursday with gusts of up to 70mph expected along with large waves in coastal areas.
Yellow warnings are also in force for wind and rain in West Dunbartonshire and Argyll and Bute. The rain warning covers almost the entire country other than the west coast of the Highlands and Western Isles as well as Shetland and Orkney.
It will be in place from 6am on Thursday until 6am on Saturday. The wind warning covers the country north of the central belt – including Shetland and Orkney – from 3am on Thursday until noon on Friday with gusts of up to 80mph possible.
What is a red weather warning?
“It is very likely that there will be a risk to life, with substantial disruption to travel, energy supplies and possibly widespread damage to property and infrastructure. You should avoid travelling, where possible, and follow the advice of the emergency services and local authorities.”
They have only been issued a handful of times in Scotland, most recently for Storm Arwen in November 2021 and for the Beast from the East, which struck in early 2018.