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New Scottish Flood Forecast informs public of flooding three days in advance

Date published: 08 February 2023


The Scottish Flood Forecast provides the earliest indication possible of when and where flooding is expected over the next three days, and whether the source is from rivers, surface water or the sea.

Communities across Scotland will be able to prepare and take action sooner to protect themselves from flooding as a new three-day Scottish Flood Forecast launches.

Developed by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and the Met Office, the Scottish Flood Forecast provides the earliest indication possible of when and where flooding is expected over the next three days, and whether the source is from rivers, surface water or the sea.

In addition, the colour coded map on SEPA’s website describes the potential impacts on communities and links to advice and information on what protective action people can take if required. It also offers reassurance when significant flooding is not expected.

The Scottish Flood Forecast was developed following extensive research involving the public, community flood groups, emergency responders, partner organisations and both SEPA and Met Office employees. Feedback from more than 200 users was also gathered during a trial phase from May last year.

Gail Walker is from the Tillicoultry, Devonside and Coalsnaughton Flood Group (Tideco):

“The Scottish Flood Forecast is an important information source for Tideco. Advance warning of flooding supports us to work out how we can best respond to weather events with the resources we have.

“Tillicoultry has a number of flooding issues and is a known flooding ‘hot spot’. This can include surface water and sewage flooding within residential streets, as well as flooding from the Tillicoultry Burn and the River Devon, which both have a history of having flooded out homes in the past. Whilst we have some flood defence measures in place, we still have areas that are vulnerable.

“The Scottish Flood Forecast is a useful trigger for the group to plan, prepare and to make sure volunteers are in areas where we know there is the potential for flooding. The key role of Tideco is to warn, inform and offer support to those at risk of flooding or who may have been impacted.”

The forecast is produced every morning, 365 days a year, and published on SEPA’s website. It is an additional tool for the public to use alongside the current Floodline service, which issues shorter notice Regional Flood Alerts and Local Flood Warnings to those signed up, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Environment Minister Mairi McAllan said:

“Flooding can cause utter devastation to people and communities, as we saw again in several parts of the country in November and December last year.

“The impact of the climate emergency, across the world and here in Scotland, means that flooding will be more frequent. That is why it’s so important that we increase community resilience and take action to manage flood risk.

“The Scottish Flood Forecast will give people a three day look ahead to help make plans for travel and ensure safety and is a product of the excellent partnership working between SEPA and the Met Office.

“This new three-day forecast is a helpful addition to the other important services, such as Floodline, that the Scottish Flood Forecasting Service provides.”

Nicole Paterson, SEPA Chief Executive, added:

“The Scottish Flood Forecast is a significant step in helping communities across the country build resilience, especially as climate change brings more extreme weather to Scotland. We recently experienced damaging impacts from flooding in Aberdeenshire and Angus in November and Dumfries and Galloway in December. In Dumfries in particular, levels at the River Nith were the highest ever recorded.

“The forecast is also the biggest change to SEPA’s flood warning service in the last decade. While it currently displays information at a national level, work will continue on the forecast to gradually introduce localised information.”

Ian Cameron, Met Office Markets Director, said:

“Every day the Met Office and SEPA teams work in close partnership to publish the Scottish Flood Forecast, providing guidance to the flood forecasting team at the Scottish Flood Forecasting Service (SFFS) with the latest weather information. Working together in the SFFS Partnership enables the Met Office and SEPA to achieve more together and create a more resilient environment.”

View the Scottish Flood Forecast.

Notes to editors

  • Frequently asked questions on flooding and the Scottish Flood Forecast
  • SEPA’s flooding role is to support communities to avoid flood risk where they can, protect where they cannot and act when warned of flooding. We:
    • Provide Scotland’s flood forecasting and warning service
    • Are the strategic flood risk management authority
    • Are a statutory consultee and key agency in the planning process
    • Regulate the safety of Scotland’s reservoirs
  • The Scottish Flood Forecasting Service is a strategic partnership between the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and the Met Office
  • SEPA collects data from its network of over 650 rainfall, river and coastal monitoring stations throughout Scotland generated 24 hours a day. This hydrological information is combined with meteorological information from the Met Office, which our team of experts use to predict the likelihood and timing of river, coastal and surface water flooding
  • SEPA and Met Office also work together to produce a daily, national flood guidance statement issued to Civil Contingencies Category 1 and 2 agencies, such as emergency responders, local authorities and other organisations with flooding management duties. Each daily statement gives an assessment of the risk of flooding for the next five days and provides organisations with valuable time to put preparations in place to reduce the impact of flooding. The Scottish Flood Forecast now provides similar information for the next three days in a format adapted for the public
  • The partnership between SEPA and the Met Office also directly helps those using SEPA’s Floodline service, by providing more specific information allowing SEPA to issue more timely flood warnings and give people a better chance of reducing the impact of flooding on their home or business
  • Floodline provides live flooding information and advice on how to prepare for or cope with the impacts of flooding 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Sign up and get notified when the area you live, work or travel through is at risk of flooding