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Storm Babet brings significant flooding with more rain expected

Date published: 20 October 2023


Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) flooding experts have been monitoring weather forecasts, river levels and flood forecasting models through the night to provide information to communities and partner agencies as the country moves through another exceptional rainfall event. Prolonged, heavy rain will continue throughout the day and into Saturday, continuing extensive river and surface water flooding.

Alerts and Warnings as at 11:30 - check live flood updates for latest situation

  • 12 regional flood alerts
  • 16 localised flood warnings
  • 5 severe flood warnings

A significant proportion of Central and NE Scotland is seeing extensive river and surface water flooding, with widespread impacts to transport and infrastructure and community scale property flooding. There remains a danger to life.

Southern Aberdeenshire, Dundee and Angus and the eastern Tayside areas have experienced very high rainfall totals and increasing river flows in these areas. The catchments of highest concern are the North Esk and South Esk, which are forecast to continue to experience exceptional levels. The Dee and Don are also being monitored carefully for potential impacts.

Following consultation with emergency responder partners, SEPA issued five Severe Flood Warnings:

  • Marykirk (North Esk)
  • Brechin (South Esk)
  • Logie Mill and Craigo (North Esk)
  • Kinnard/Bridge of Dun (South Esk)
  • Finavon and Tannadice (South Esk)

SEPA continue to monitor catchments across the country – with particular focus in the rest of the North East, Central Scotland, Fife, Caithness & Sutherland, Easter Ross and Scottish Borders.

Other parts of Scotland are also at risk of flooding as rivers respond and drainage systems become overwhelmed. The risk of river flooding is exacerbated by the fact that many catchments are already saturated following recent heavy rainfall events. There is also concern that surface water flooding may be made worse by debris blocking drainage and culverts as a result of the high winds.

There is an increasing risk across the eastern Borders and East Lothian through today into Saturday due to another band of rain, which will move up the east coast throughout the day. This will also prolong the event and keep rivers high in NE Scotland.

Due to strong winds, there will also be a risk of wave overtopping along the coast.

It is important people keep up to date by following weather information from the Met Office and flooding advice from SEPA.


Following consultation with emergency responder partners, SEPA issued a Severe Flood Warning for Brechin at 14.15 yesterday (Thursday), due to the risks of overtopping of the Brechin flood alleviation scheme, and the associated risk of rapid inundation of parts of the town. This happened overnight, resulting in widespread flooding through the community. We are just now passing the peak flows; however, continuing rain overnight Friday to Saturday will result in a predicted second peak, maintaining severe flood risk.

Observed rainfall totals

The following totals have been observed in the SEPA rain gauge network in the last 36 hours.

South Grampian:

  • Waterside – 176mm
  • Invermark – 158mm
  • Charr – 143mm


  • Forter – 103mm
  • Auchnafree – 94mm

Average October rainfall in the affected area is between 100 and 130mm.

Pascal Lardet, SEPA Flood Duty Manager, said: 

“These are very difficult days for communities in Scotland who are experiencing flooding, in some cases for the second time in a month. There is more rain to come, and SEPA staff are working around the clock to provide vital information to partners and the public.

“We started issuing Regional Flood Alerts on Tuesday to provide early awareness and help people prepare, and these are being updated as required. We continue to monitor river levels and issue localised Flood Warnings as required. However, it is important to stress 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. 

“More Flood Warnings will be issued across the day, so I do encourage people to check our flood updates for all the latest information. You can also follow @SEPAFlood on X for advice and information.

“Follow the advice of the emergency services and ensure you protect yourself. 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.” 

SEPA continue to work with the Met Office to monitor the situation 24/7. As well as live information at Flood Updates, people can check the three-day Scottish Flood Forecast to see what conditions are expected further ahead.  

Be prepared

  • Check the Scottish Flood Forecast - developed in partnership with the Met Office it 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.  
  • Sign up to Floodline and receive free flood messages letting you know when the area where you live, work or travel through is at risk of flooding. 
  • Create a flood plan which includes knowing how to shut off your gas, water and electricity supplies. 
  • Consider installing flood protection at your home. 

Stay safe 

  • Follow the advice of emergency responders, including evacuation.
  • Don’t walk through flood water – 15cm of fast flowing water could be enough to knock you off your feet and hazards can be hidden under the water.   
  • Drive with care, and do not travel through deep fast flowing water. It only takes 30cm of fast flowing water to move an average family sized car.   
  • If you’re walking beside rivers be extra careful of wet footpaths and small watercourses.   
  • Consider deploying flooding protection products if required.

Stay informed 

What’s the difference between a flood alert and a flood warning? 

  • We use forecast weather information provided by the Met Office combined with our own observation of rainfall and river levels and advanced hydrological modelling to provide advance warning of flooding.   
  • Regional Flood Alerts are early advice that flooding is possible across a wider geographical area. The purpose of the Alerts is to make people aware of the risk of flooding and be prepared. We normally issue them 12 to 24 hours in advance of the possibility of flooding.   
  • Flood Warnings are more locally specific and are issued for areas where we have gauges on rivers to measure the exact river height. They are issued at shorter notice when we are more certain that a specific area will be affected.