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Storm Kathleen: Western Scotland coastal flood impacts likely, with key focus on Western Isles and Orkney

Date published: 06 April 2024


SEPA issue 16 Regional Flood Alerts and 34 Local Flood Warnings as Storm Kathleen brings very high winds to coastal areas of Scotland over the weekend.

Vincent Fitzsimons, SEPA’s Flood Duty Manager, said:

“Across the weekend, Scotland is braced for impacts from Storm Kathleen including very high winds and coastal flooding in western areas.  Flooding impacts are expected across western coastal areas throughout the weekend. Impacts start in the Solway coast and Firth of Clyde on Saturday and then move around the coast to the eastern side of the country over the next few days.  Of particular concern is likely impact to communities in the Western Isles and Orkney late Saturday and across Sunday.

“On top of already high tides, Kathleen will bring a storm surge and large waves. This combination is particularly dangerous – especially around high tides.

“There is real danger to life from wave overtopping, particularly around causeways, coastal roads and paths.  Disruption to travel and infrastructure is possible, as is isolated flooding to coastal properties and communities.

“While the risk is greatest around high tide times, our message is clear:  take extra care if you are near the coast at any point and stay well clear of waves and water.  Be careful when travelling around exposed coastal areas and don’t walk or drive through flood water as there may be hidden hazards.

“Flood Alerts and Warnings are in place so stay up to date though our website. We will continue to work with the Met Office to monitor the situation 24/7 and review regional Flood Alerts and local Flood Warnings as required.

“We advise people to sign up to Floodline to receive free updates for where they live, or travel through, directly to their phone. People can also check our flood updates for all the latest information and view 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.
  • 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.    
  • Stay away from flooded promenades and crashing waves around the coast.
  • 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 forecast models and or monitoring. They are issued at shorter notice when we are more certain that a specific area will be affected.