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SEPA issue record number of Flood Alerts and Warnings this winter

Date published: 26 February 2024


A total of 720 messages have been sent since 1st September 2023, the highest number since SEPA introduced its Floodline service in March 2011.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) have issued a record number of regional Flood Alerts and local Flood Warnings to the public this winter.

A total of 720 messages have been sent since 1st September 2023, the highest number since SEPA introduced its Floodline service in March 2011. The previous record of 714 was set over autumn and winter 2015/16.

Following a year of storms and flooding events, and with winter weather continuing, SEPA are urging as many people as possible to sign up to receive their free Flood Alerts and Warnings.

SEPA are Scotland’s national flood forecasting and warning authority. Advance notice of flooding is provided using forecast weather information from the Met Office in combination with SEPA’s own rainfall and river level observations, and advanced hydrological modelling.

When flooding impacts are forecast, regional Alerts, local Warnings or, in worst case scenarios local Severe Warnings, are issued to those signed up to receive them via phone call or text.

Pascal Lardet, Flood Warning Unit Manager at SEPA, said:

“This year, Scotland has witnessed several extreme weather events. In October, two consecutive periods of intense and prolonged rainfall between the 6th and 9th of October and then Storm Babet between the 18th and 23rd of October. These events resulted in severe impacts, with extensive flooding of communities, multiple properties evacuations and impacts on infrastructures, particularly the overtopping of Brechin flood defences.

“Unsettled weather continued from November to February, with a record number of named storms affecting the whole country. The latest stormy period was only last week with significant coastal wave overtopping due to high spring tides combined with a surge, affecting the Solway Firth and the East coast in particular.

“These events should be a wake-up call of things to come due to climate change here in Scotland. Flooding remains a growing threat to our communities, which is why it is vital that those who aren’t signed up to our free Floodline service should take action now and not wait until the next storm hits.

“Receiving our messages allows communities and businesses more time to prepare and act to reduce the risk of damage and disruption. This may involve deploying flood protection products, moving vehicles from at risk areas and changing travel plans.”

SEPA are continuing to expand and improve Scotland’s flood warning service network and have recently added six local Flood Warning areas along the River Carron near Falkirk. Approximately 1,500 properties are at risk of flooding in these areas, which were identified in Scotland’s Flood Risk Management Plans as a priority.

Members of the public and businesses can sign up to Floodline free of charge online to receive messages directly to your phone, letting you know when the area where you live, work or travel through is at risk of flooding.

Follow @SEPAFlood on X for the latest updates including our three-day Scottish Flood Forecast or visit our website for a view of all the latest flood updates and further information.

Notes to editor:

  • View SEPA’s regional flood alerts and local flood warnings on our website.
  • 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.
  • Follow our dedicated flooding channel @SEPAFlood on X, formerly Twitter, for the latest flooding information.
  • What’s the difference between a flood alert and a flood warning?
    • 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 and local flood forecasting models. They are issued at shorter notice when we are more certain that a specific area will be affected.
  • To understand how flood risk will be managed in your area, view our Flood Risk Management Plans.
  • Find out more about responsibilities for flooding on our website.